Offended: a biblical word with strong lessons

People are easily offended today. They take offense about others’ opinions, skin color, political leanings, financial status, word choice, and much, much more.

The word offended is in the Bible, and it brings up some strong spiritual teachings. Here are just a few.

The context of the first is a half-lie Abraham told. Apparently Sarah was a knockout. She was Abraham’s wife and also his half-sister. So Abraham thought, if he and Sarah said she was his sister, he would save his skin. No one would kill him for his wife. Of course, this was wrong on many levels.

Abimelech takes Sarah into his harem, and God came to Abimelech in a dream by night, and said to him, Behold, thou art but a dead man, for the woman which thou hast taken; for she is a man’s wife. But Abimelech had not come near her: and he said, Lord, wilt thou slay also a righteous nation? Said he not unto me, She is my sister? and she, even she herself said, He is my brother: in the integrity of my heart and innocency of my hands have I done this (Genesis 20:3-5). God responds, Now therefore restore the man his wife; for he is a prophet, and he shall pray for thee, and thou shalt live: and if thou restore her not, know thou that thou shalt surely die, thou, and all that are thine (20:7).

Here is the verse about offense: Then Abimelech called Abraham, and said unto him, What hast thou done unto us? and what have I offended thee, that thou hast brought on me and on my kingdom a great sin? thou hast done deeds unto me that ought not to be done (20:9).

Abraham’s unwise half-lie affected the king and the whole nation. When Christians sin, that sin affects more people that one can imagine. In this case, Abimilech did what all heathen kings did. Abimelech saw a gorgeous woman and took her into his harem. While we certainly don’t condone harems or taking any woman one desires, this is what kings did back in those days. God wasn’t pleased with Abimilech for taking Sarah, and he wasn’t happy with Abraham for lying. Abimilech recognized that he had offended God Himself.

The next offense speaks about idolatry. It’s found in Hosea 13:1, When Ephraim spake trembling, he exalted himself in Israel; but when he offended in Baal, he died. What was the penalty for idol worship? Death.

Jesus used this word. He said, Blessed is he, whosoever shall not be offended in me (Matthew 11:6). Those not ashamed of the Lord will be happy.

When Jesus went back to his hometown, Nazareth, they were offended in him. But Jesus said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, save in his own country, and in his own house (Matthew 13:57). So, Jesus left Nazareth and did miracles elsewhere. The people believed rumors and innuendo instead of the Son of God.

Thankfully, Jesus gave us His Word. These things have I spoken unto you, that ye should not be offended (John 16:1). What a blessing!

This next verse is perhaps one of the saddest in the Bible. Of course, Jesus, being God, knew what would happen, and He even advised the disciples before His crucifixion: All ye shall be offended because of me this night: for it is written, I will smite the shepherd, and the sheep of the flock shall be scattered abroad (Matthew 26:31). Peter contradicted the Lord, Although all shall be offended, yet will not I (Mark 14:29). Jesus indeed knew that even Peter would be offended and deny Him, which he did three times before the cock crowed.

The lesson, of course, for us is to stand for the Lord and not to be scattered. With the regulations for churches in diverse places in the world, some churches aren’t even allowed to meet. We need not to be offended in Christ but to be strong and stick together.

The last verse about offending teaches a practical principle. This one is about our behavior before other Christians: It is good neither to eat flesh, nor to drink wine, nor any thing whereby thy brother stumbleth, or is offended, or is made weak (Romans 14:21).

The context is about Christian liberty, specifically eating meat that had been offered to idols. Some Christians could eat it with a clear conscience, since an idol is just a piece of stone, wood, or metal, and they recognized that it was nothing. Other Christians had “weaker” consciences, and because of the meat having been used in a pagan rite, they couldn’t eat it. The lesson in the Bible is for the meat eaters not to eat meat when they knew they might offend the ones who didn’t eat it because of their conscience. When alone, of course, it would be fine. The lesson for us, of course, is not to do anything to provoke or tempt another Christian to go against his conscience.

Let’s be careful not to be offended in Christ but rather to glorify Him with our lives. Christians need to stick together and be strong against persecution. There’s no reason to lie. And, we need to be careful not to offend others who have weaker consciences.

“The sky is falling!” The Chicken Little syndrome

The story of “Chicken Little” is, sadly, the story of many Christians today.

To refresh your memory—or in case you are too young to have heard of Chicken Little—here’s the story in a nutshell (pun absolutely intended): Chicken Little is walking around and an acorn falls on his head. He looks up, doesn’t see anything amiss, and he panics. “The sky is falling!” He runs down the road, and gathers others to go tell the king that the sky is falling.

Christians do the same thing.

They see:

  • violence
  • microchips
  • vaccines
  • earthquakes
  • political parties
  • persecution
  • corruption
  • evil influences

And they run down the road crying, “it’s the end times!” “It’s the mark of the beast!” “They’ll never vaccinate me!”

Are we in the end times? Possibly. I honestly even hope so. Personally, I would love to be part of the gathering that doesn’t experience death and goes zooming up to meet Jesus in the Rapture.

It is interesting that the apostles of the New Testament thought Jesus’ second coming was imminent. Let’s read 2 Peter 3:3-14. Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers, walking after their own lusts, And saying, Where is the promise of his coming? for since the fathers fell asleep, all things continue as they were from the beginning of the creation (verses 3-4). Sounds like today, doesn’t it? Scoffers? Lots of them. People looking for pleasures? By the boatloads.

Let’s read further. For this they willingly are ignorant of, that by the word of God the heavens were of old, and the earth standing out of the water and in the water: Whereby the world that then was, being overflowed with water, perished (verses 5-6). This obviously reminds them of Noah’s flood.

Now for some prophecy: But the heavens and the earth, which are now, by the same word are kept in store, reserved unto fire against the day of judgment and perdition of ungodly men (verse 7). God will destroy this earth with fire, and there will be a new heaven and a new earth (Revelation 21:1).

But, beloved, be not ignorant of this one thing, that one day is with the Lord as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day. The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (verses 8-9). God’s timetable isn’t ours, and He isn’t limited by time at all. I love that last verse! The Lord mercifully gives the world more time to turn to Him.

This is interesting to everyone, Christians and non-believers: But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night; in the which the heavens shall pass away with a great noise, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat, the earth also and the works that are therein shall be burned up (verse 10). This obviously is speaking about the ending judgment.

In light of that, what should Christians be doing? Seeing then that all these things shall be dissolved, what manner of persons ought ye to be in all holy conversation and godliness, Looking for and hasting unto the coming of the day of God, wherein the heavens being on fire shall be dissolved, and the elements shall melt with fervent heat? Nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness. Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless (verses 11-14). We’re supposed to be godly, have good reputations, and be peacemakers. Now, that’s practical!

The Rapture of the church is described in another passage. Let’s read it together. But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope. For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him. For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent (go before) them which are asleep (1 Thessalonians 4:13-15). This is good news! Those who have died in Christ will go first. We have hope of this resurrection.

What will happen? It’s dramatic: For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first: Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

I love this last verse: Wherefore comfort one another with these words (18).  Christians are supposed to be calm and share this peace with each other.

Paul, Peter, Jude, and the author of Hebrews instructed believers to be watching and waiting for Jesus’ coming (1 Corinthians 1:7; Philippians 3:20; 1 Thessalonians 1:10; Titus 2:13; Hebrews 9:28; 1 Peter 1:13; and Jude 21).* The clear teaching of Scripture indicates that Jesus’ coming in the clouds for believers could happen at any time. The disciples believed that back in their day, and we believe it today.

So, is the sky falling? Chicken Little and his gang are running to warn the king. (Watch out for falling acorns!)

Should Christians panic? No, not at all.

But, we should definitely look up. Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ (Titus 2:13).

Jesus said, Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid (John 14:27).

* Thomas D. Ice, Liberty University

Who is God? He’s good.

You’ve probably heard the saying, “God is good, all the time.” Of course, that’s true. But, it goes much further than the statement. God is goodness itself. It is Who He is.

Maybe we could think of it this way: God = good.

His essence is goodness. He’s the embodiment of goodness. His intentions are good, actions are good, plans are good … we could go on and on.

There are many profound statements in the Bible about God’s goodness. Let’s look at a few of them. I picked out some recurring themes. Feel free to comment and add others you’ve thought of.

How is God good?

He gives good gifts. For the LORD God is a sun and shield: the LORD will give grace and glory: no good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly (Psalm 84:11). Jesus said, If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children, how much more shall your Father which is in heaven give good things to them that ask him? (Matthew 7:11)

God’s commandments are for our good. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as it is at this day (Deuteronomy 6:24).

He wants us to be strong and courageous, because He is our strength. Have not I commanded thee? Be strong and of a good courage; be not afraid, neither be thou dismayed: for the LORD thy God is with thee whithersoever thou goest (Joshua 1:9). Wait on the LORD: be of good courage, and he shall strengthen thine heart: wait, I say, on the LORD (Psalm 27:14). The LORD is good, a stronghold in the day of trouble; and he knoweth them that trust in him (Nahum 1:7).

God is worthy of our praise. And they sang together by course in praising and giving thanks unto the LORD; because he is good, for his mercy endureth for ever toward Israel. And all the people shouted with a great shout, when they praised the LORD, because the foundation of the house of the LORD was laid (Ezra 3:11). Teach me to do thy will; for thou art my God: thy spirit is good; lead me into the land of uprightness (Psalm 143:10). The LORD is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works (Psalm 145:9). I will freely sacrifice unto thee: I will praise thy name, O LORD; for it is good (Psalm 54:6).

The Lord provides salvation. Good and upright is the LORD: therefore will he teach sinners in the way (Psalm 25:8). O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalm 34:8). Jesus said, I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep. I am the good shepherd, and know my sheep, and am known of mine (John 10:11, 14).

And, the most encouraging thing of all, because of God’s goodness, He actually keeps working in our lives, so we can serve Him. Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ (Philippians 1:6). For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13).

O taste and see that the LORD is good: blessed is the man that trusteth in him (Psalm 34:8).

For the first “Who is God?” post, you can read it here.

How to rest in God’s care

One of the easiest things to do when you’re in the middle of a trial is panic. We stress about the circumstances, the what-ifs, and unknowns. They say that 80% of the things we worry about never even happen. I am so thankful for the Bible, especially in difficulties. God says He understands and cares, and He asks us to rest in Him.

It isn’t always easy.

We often begin to try to rest, but our minds instead want to wallow in self pity, self doubt, and even in our own suffering. Like some kind of a morbid game, we “enjoy” thinking about our yucky circumstances instead of training our minds to think on the Lord and praising Him.

My faithful blog readers know that I have found Philippians 4:8 to be life changing. 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.

We need to focus our thoughts to the good stuff. Look for it. Meditate on it. Have a life habit of praise—even when everything around us (and maybe inside us) is falling apart.

The next verse describes the result of obedience and thought control. Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you (Philippians 4:9).

Resting in the Lord is a concept that Hudson Taylor, missionary to China, finally learned. The book that describes his struggles, Hudson Taylor’s Spiritual Secret, is one I would recommend to every Christian.

Who can rest in God’s care? Those who belong to Him. My Father, which gave them me, is greater than all; and no man is able to pluck them out of my Father’s hand (John 10:29). There’s great security in knowing we are God’s children. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12). Have you received Jesus?

Resting in Jesus means we acknowledge His willingness to help us.

  • The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms (Deuteronomy 33:27a).
  • Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; thy rod and thy staff they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life: and I will dwell in the house of the LORD for ever (Psalm 23:4-6).
  • Be still, and know that I am God: I will be exalted among the heathen, I will be exalted in the earth (Psalm 46:10).
  • Jesus said, Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls (Mark 11:28-29).
  • Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you (1 Peter 5:7).
  • There is no fear in love; but perfect love casteth out fear: because fear hath torment (1 John 4:18a).

Heaven is the ultimate rest. There remaineth therefore a rest to the people of God. For he that is entered into his rest, he also hath ceased from his own works, as God did from his (Hebrews 4:9-10).

When our focus is on God’s Word and how the Lord desires to be our refuge, we cannot fear and be anxious. When we learn to rest in Him, we are at rest in our souls.

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. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil. It shall be health to thy navel, and marrow to thy bones (Proverbs 3:5-8).

Rest in Him.

Be honest. What are you selling?

People are trying to sell me something. I want them to be honest. What exactly are they selling?

I don’t know.

Instead, they say:

  • “My hair has never been thicker.”
  • “Come to my party.”
  • “These drops! I have lost X number of pounds already.”
  • “This lipstick doesn’t rub off. You can kiss your kids and husband as often as you like, and it’s still fresh.”
  • “Just drink this every day, and all your gut problems will be solved.”
  • “My lashes didn’t even show up, but just look at these results.”
  • “I used to be sick, but now I have boundless energy.”

I often see wonderful before and after pictures. They make me sincerely happy for those people. I mean, who wouldn’t want to look like that after two to four months?

But, my problem is that I have no idea before what or after what.

I get it. The seller wants me to click on their page, follow them, etc., and sooner or later—most likely later—they will actually tell me what they are selling and—drum roll—after that, tell me the price.

Sellers, I admire you. I might even like your product, were I to try it. But, let me tell you a secret. I appreciate honesty. Don’t be sneaky. I actually have gotten sales pitches from some people for years–and I still have no idea what they are selling. I know it has something to do with lifestyle and weight loss, but I am not sure if it’s supplements, exercise routines, or what. A shame!

Be up-front, in-your-face honest.  Say, Here is my product. It is called this name. It is marvellous. It will make you healthy, look like a million dollars, help you lose weight naturally, or it’s a great buy.”

Tell me the price. Don’t make me faint dead away when I finally see it. Tell me up front that your product will be this price each month for the rest of my life—or that it will cost me X dollars right now. I am fine with knowing, and I might not even faint if you tell me at the beginning. (No guarantees, though.)

I don’t sell anything.

But, I have a wonderful product. It’s called salvation from sin. Everyone needs it, because all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23).

It’s already paid for, but it cost God everything. He gave His only Son on the cross, bearing our sins, because He loved us that much. Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed (1 Peter 2:24).

He offers it to everyone. Not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9b).

Those who receive His gift can be saved. But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name (John 1:12).

They can go to heaven. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you (John 14:2).

I’m not selling anything, and I’m being honest. This is the truest truth there is.

There is no other way of salvation. Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved (Acts 4:12).

For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not of works, lest any man should boast (Ephesians 2:8-9).

Jesus provided salvation. He offers it as a gift, when we repent of our sins and accept what He did in our place. Now, it’s entirely our decision. A precious gift.

What are you selling? Be honest, and tell me.