Has God Offended You?

He did everything right. He was filled with the Spirit before his birth. He renounced physical comforts. He lived in the desert, focusing on God and His service. He traveled relentlessly up and down the Jordan preparing people to receive Christ when He came. He faithfully proclaimed a message of repentance and he ostracized himself from elite society by pointing out the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees. He recognized Jesus when He came and even baptized His own Lord in obedience. People started to follow Jesus and his own ministry declined. He accepted it in humility without jealousy. Let’s face it, John the Baptist was a pretty awesome individual.

So why is he left to waste in prison–Herod’s prison–a nasty fellow, a man of total depravity? Jesus is God’s Son, right? He’s devoted everything to Him. Jesus is performing miracles and John is still in prison? Would it be so hard to free him? The days go by and John’s faith is tested to the breaking point. Finally he calls two of his followers to him and sends them to Jesus. He just needs to know that he hasn’t gotten everything wrong. And here we have one of the most poignant interchanges between a suffering servant and his Lord:

‘And John, calling two of his disciples to him, sent them to the Lord, saying, “Are you the one who is to come, or shall we look for another?”

And he [Jesus] answered them, “Go and tell John what you have seen and heard: the blind receive their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, and the deaf hear, the dead are raised up, the poor have good news preached to them. And blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”’ Luke 7

Jesus’ answer said it all. Yes, He was the Messiah, doing all the miracles the Coming One would do. And then Jesus said something that still resonates in the heart of every believer. “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.”

I never considered that I could be offended by God. I love Him for all He has done for me. But following Him is not a bed of roses. Actually, maybe it is, come to think of it. His presence graces our days with beauty and the fragrance of truth, but thorns are there for anyone who follows long enough. Obedience pricks the fingers of those who live in God’s garden. He asks us to do hard things, to love difficult people, to deny ourselves for the good of others. Doing all this for a short time is one thing–but when the trial is protracted? When hard situations hold no promise for change? How do we feel then? Angry? Cheated? Offended? Hopeless?

Jesus said, “Blessed in the one who is not offended by me.” When we are tempted to be offended at our lot, and yet choose to believe God’s promise that He loves us, has good plans for us, disciplines us for our good, and is preparing a place for us, we do something we could never have done without walking through trials–we honor Him, we glorify Him, and, best of all, we express true love to Him. “We become a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing unto God.”

So my  rose garden has now taken on new meaning for me. I will remember that the thorns of obedience will always be with me in this life…after all, who am I to complain? Jesus was crowned with them.


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For Those of Us Who Are Really Angry

Ok. So someone hurts your feelings. Or steals your parking spot. Maybe they are late to your event or didn’t RSVP. You’re angry.

Or…someone molested you, killed a relative, stole your creative work, broke their marriage vows, abandoned you. You’re REALLY angry.

You just can’t lay hurts like that down and call everything happy. You may want to. You may try. But it never magically goes away.  I’m writing this post because letting go of anger is more than just trusting God to be just. It’s about looking at something that actually happened. That something that happened is as real and as horrible as what happened to you. That something can save those of us who are REALLY angry. In fact it saves us TWICE.

When we have been hurt, deeply hurt, we cry. Elementary. The tears heal and they let others know we suffer. Something else is born in us, too, though you might not believe it. A cry for justice. You can deny it but it’s true. It’s actually not a bad thing in itself. It shows that what was lost has intrinsic value. That cry is a kind of anger. Here’s the clincher. Your need for justice has been satisfied. You didn’t even have to fill out a report, call a lawyer, or attend a court date. No jury deliberations necessary. God knew every wrong that would happen to you and kept a record. And He exacted justice. About two thousand years ago.

You can have a front row seat to that event. In fact, you probably should take one. If you have a deep hurt it’s the next thing you should do after reading this post. Go somewhere by yourself and take that hurt to an ugly hill with three crosses on it. On one cross is an innocent man. He’s been nailed there and left to die. His name is Jesus. You can imagine a crucifixion. Stay long enough until you realize that God exacted justice for your hurt on Him. I don’t know how long you will need to see Jesus writhing there before you realize that He took your perpetrator’s punishment in full. It will happen though. At that point you will have been saved from your cry for justice. Each time the anger comes back take it to the cross and you will realize it again. But it will take less time.

Be sure to do one more thing before you leave the cross. Stay there long enough to realize how many of your actions Christ suffered over. You’ve hurt others and offended God with your sin. Accept that He took that punishment for you, and let Him be Lord of your life. At that point you have been saved TWICE. Once from anger and once from your own unrighteousness.

What a Savior!

If you want to know more about this awesome God who loves you this much you can send me a reply or simply visit my church’s website at www.clovisevfree.org. We have great pastors and elders who would love to talk to you. (And some great sermons to hear, too.)

Letting Go of Anger

Anger is a complicated emotion. I didn’t get a degree in psychology but I have been a human for 39 years. In my experience…it’s complicated. Letting go of it is even more of a puzzle. I think that there is a very logical reason for this…anger is very logical.  And because our anger towards a situation can be reasonable, at first glance, it seems irrational to let it go.

“What about justice?”

“They need to be taught a lesson.”

“They were wrong.”

“Somebody needs to know.”

These are just some of the thoughts that fuel the enmity we hold against our offenders.  We shouldn’t deny these feelings and desires. Being made in the image of God, we want justice, as He does. What we must do is submit these situations to our Father in heaven, who asks us to leave judgment to Him. If we deny our hurts or need for justice we are doing something futile, like trying to hold a beach ball under the water. It can’t be done without exerting constant energy which wears us down in body and spirit. I think the only true hope for dealing with our anger is to acknowledge the wrong and then take God at His marvelous word.

He will repay. He will teach. He will correct. He knows. He can do it well.  And He loves us  exquisitely in the meantime.

You prepare a table before me, in the presence of my enemies.”  Psalm 23 (emphasis added)