Friday, September 30, 2016

Deserting Offense

Lucille’s place of worship was having a special program and invited her neighbors to the event.  On Sunday they arrived with Lucille at the church and followed her down the aisle to the front of the sanctuary. 

After the service the couple noticed that their friend was somewhat upset, but didn’t pry as to ascertain the reason for her change in behavior.  Later that week when they were visiting their elderly neighbor Lucille revealed her dilemma. 

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Songs of Offense 

It didn’t take long before Lucille let the couple know why she had become so distant during their Sunday visit. 

“It was those songs.  I don’t see why we can’t stick to the traditional hymnbook for the song service. 
We have that other building for the contemporary worship services, so they should sing those songs over there if they want to and leave our service as it’s always been.  I hate those songs!” 

Well, apparently this had been bothering Lucille for a while, but for some reason she spilled the beans to her friends that didn’t attend her church.  It seemed like as good of a time as any for the couple to voice their opinion on what they had just learned. 

After a few minutes of running down a list of questions as to why Lucille didn’t like the new songs, it was clear that she was offended by the song leader’s selections.  This led the young lady to ask her neighbor one more question. 

“Would you say that singing the Psalms is scriptural or any passage in the Bible for that matter?” 

Of course you can surmise that Lucille agreed without question.  Then the woman went on in her dialog about songs in a place of worship. 

“Did you know that song you said you hated was directly quoting passages in Psalms?  Those songs that you are so offended by were written based on verses in the Bible.  To say you hate them is saying you hate the Word of God.” 

Even though Lucille didn’t like the songs, she changed her tune when it came to the songs her church incorporated into their rather “traditional” services.  She accepted that the Word of God trumped the custom of man that was regulated as church doctrine. 

Two Thousand Plus Years 

It’s funny how things that we grow so fond of tend to turn into traditions whether or not we realize it.  Song selections, church carpet, flashing lights, black walls and torn jeans seemed to have made their way into our sanctuaries.  Even after 2,000 plus years, Jesus’ so called “disciples” and followers are finding new ways to become offended among themselves. 

Stepping back into our disciple forefather’s lives, we read how Jesus became a bit ticked that His first twelve men let offense override His teachings.  In studying the Word of God this week I was amazed at how much the disciples still doubted and questioned what Christ was teaching.   

Can We Have Some More Please? 

The mass feeding of the five thousand was over, so the Master left the disciples and the “diners” for some one-on-one time with the Heavenly Father.  All alone Jesus departed across the sea and disappeared into the desert.  (See John chapter 6)

Catching up along their journey, we are led to believe that the disciples had come to terms with Jesus truly being the Son of God after they witnessed Him walking on water (apparently the miracle feeding didn’t totally convince them).  It has only been a short time since that event and now it looks like unbelief is making a comeback in their thinking; this time it came when Jesus was ministering to the multitudes about Him being the Bread of Life. 

Although He had dismissed the people and escaped for some private time, they hunted Him down like wolves on a chase for food until they found Jesus.  It was during this occasion that the Lord revealed their true colors as to why they really followed Him. 

By now the disciples were reunited with Jesus in the Temple in Capernaum, and heard the conversation He had with the “groupies” that wanted the Lord to believe they were true followers.  Calling them on their actions, Jesus spoke to the people about seeking Him as the true meat and bread they needed in order to enter into Heaven. 

“Jesus replied, “I tell you the truth, you want to be with Me because I fed you, not because you understood the miraculous signs.  You’re only here for the food!”  (John 6:26 NLT emphasis mine) 

Responding to what Jesus said, they requested that He perform more miracles so they would believe by giving them bread every day as God did Moses and the Israelites in the wilderness.  Instead of granting their requests for miracles, Jesus explained that in order for them to have eternal life and do the will of God, they would have to believe on Him as God’s Son sent from Heaven. 

Jesus replied, “I am the Bread of Life. Whoever comes to Me will never be hungry again. Whoever believes in Me will never be thirsty.  But you haven’t believed in Me even though you have seen Me.” (John 6:35-36 NLT) 

When they heard what Jesus said they were confused as to what He meant by being the “Bread of Life” they needed to obtain eternal life. Making a claim that He was sent from Heaven as a type of manna really sent them into a boil. 

As Jesus spoke in the temple directing the people to the Bread of Life for salvation, the Jews started murmuring among themselves over Him saying He “is” the bread that came down from Heaven.  "How can He say that He came down from Heaven?  He's Joseph and Mary's boy and we know both of them."  (vs. 52) 

With the crowd now being agitated, Jesus was about to make another statement that would open the door to offense among God’s people. 

Disciples Go MIA 

Jesus knew what they were saying and went into one of the toughest to take messages in the Bible.  It's about eating His flesh and drinking His blood. Many people freaked out when they heard it.  To clarify it a little better here, the Amplified version says in John 6:53 that unless you appropriate, take to yourself His life (the bread) and the saving merit of His blood, you can have no life in you. 

Beginning at John 6:60 we read how the latest disciples that joined the first followers said that this message was hard, weird, strange, offensive and unbearable. They basically said, "Who can be expected to listen to such teaching that goes against anything we’ve ever been taught in the synagogues."  

These are the same people who were miraculously fed (loaves and fish), had seen the sick healed, the blind receive sight, and demons cast out. Yet they were offended by His words.  When Jesus saw that even His followers got caught up in the murmuring He wasn’t about to let it go and said,  

"You're offended at this?  What will you think if you see Me rise to where I was before.  I have been speaking to you from the Spirit who gives life, but some of you (and I know who you are) still don't believe or trust and you don't have any faith in Me." 

At that moment many of the new disciples left and didn't follow the Way of the Master anymore. They were actually offended by what they had heard because it was different and not what they were traditionally taught each week from previous Rabbis.  

Was this about to cause more doubt and unbelief among the rest?  Watching the people walk away because of offense, Jesus said to the original disciples, "Are you twelve going to desert Me and leave too?"  

Peter, who appeared to have been the self-appointed spokesperson of the bunch, uttered what he assumed the other eleven believed: "Who are we going to turn to? You have the words of eternal life and we are sure that You are Christ the Son of the Living God (regardless to what we’ve traditionally been taught, learned or have done in the past)." (vs. 68-69 emphasis mine) 

Would this finally put an end to complaining, doubting, murmuring and offense among and with the disciples?  Could they handle breaking tradition in the synagogue to allow the Word (Jesus) to take precedence so more souls could be brought into the Kingdom of God? 

Singing the Message 

I have to admit that some of the things that are taking place in the churches today are really pushing the envelope when it comes to true worship the way I’ve been taught.  This goes for the message as well as the music. 

However, something I’ve learned as a worship leader/pastor that wasn’t taught in the church is that music is a key component when it comes to inviting the Holy Spirit into the service.   When we sing the scriptures we are literally singing the message of Jesus.   

Singing passages of the Bible is a sure way to have Rhema Fire from Heaven fall on the people, so that the message is received into the hearts of mankind.  In order for this to happen we have to break away from how we traditionally do things as we think they should be done, in order to receive the Spirit of Favor for worship. 

Understanding the Rhema Word of God 

The disciples that Jesus first led had no problem with the scriptures being sung. 
Many of the passages in Psalms were set to music and they sang them during times of worship.  King David knew that singing God’s Word causes favor to fall on him, because God acts on His own promises. 
No, the disciples offense didn’t come from lyrics (logos word meaning written of God), but from the rhema or spoken word from Jesus (Son of God) revealed through the Holy Spirit. 

Though the Greek word rhema does not appear in non-Greek Bibles, Matthew 4:4 gives us an example of its importance. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word (rhema) that proceeds out of the mouth of God."  Jesus later confirms this in John 6:63 when talking to the disciples about their being offended and not believing what He spoke: "The words (rhema) that I speak to you are spirit, and they are life." 

There are so many things that divide the Body of Christ that it stops unbelievers from coming to know Jesus.  Are you in any way contributing to the numbers of the lost through the spirit of offense?  The beginning disciples drove people away from Christ with their murmuring, bickering and offense over the teaching of Jesus.  Have you done the same through some other means of offense? 

This Week’s Challenge:
Deserting Offense 

If you’re a Christian no doubt there is something that has offended you when it comes to traditional things being done in the church.  It’s time to desert offenses that cause the Spirit of God’s favor to leave us so that we can get on with our discipleship classes with Jesus. 

Perhaps you’re one that questions every doctrine that comes down the pike, or always has an opinion on whatever is being taught from the pulpit.  Then maybe you don’t have a problem with the message as much as you do with other things that are taking place in your place of worship, such as the new music being introduced to the congregation. 

Jesus instructed that if they aren’t preaching against the Word of God we are to let people alone and let Him sort it out His way.  If it’s something we don’t like or understand we don’t have to participate in the act, but we surely aren’t to pick our fellow believers apart.   

This week’s challenge would be a good time to do some internal searching.  Is there something that has come across your path from the Word, a message at church or even a song that has truly offended you?   

So many times when we have an issue of offense, we wear our thoughts on our faces.  A frown, a scowl or even a tense look lets others know that we are ticked off and not happy about something.  If you have verbally vented your frustration publically through murmuring, your attitude may have contributed to modern day desertion of Christ as the early disciples did.   

Murmuring and offense are forms of unbelief and don’t make for good discipleship students.  If unchecked they ultimately turn to hate just as we learned in Lucille’s case.  She allowed it to be a stronghold in her life that ruled the way she dealt with things she didn’t like or understand.  Jesus talked about this behavior in the last days, which we are in at this time. 

“And then many will be offended, will betray one another, and will hate one another.” (Matthew 24:10 NKJV) 

As you search yourself this week grab a Bible and dig in to the scriptures to find the offense that’s causing you to sin, and read how Jesus said to handle it.  Instead of staying offended get rid of it and continue to follow Jesus. 

As I was finishing this writing my husband chimed in with an unconventional suggestion for this week’s song, which he proceeded to sing to the tune of “If You’re Happy and You Know It Clap Your Hands.”  Although it won’t make the top 10 list, is a bit overboard and corny, it captures our point about allowing church tradition to steal favor from our lives. 

If you’re offended and you know it smack your head.

If you’re offended and you know it smack your head.

If you’re offended and you know it

Then your face will surely show it

If you’re offended and you know it smack your head. 

Has this offended you or will you desert those feelings and allow the Holy Spirit to bless you with favor for your journey with Jesus?  Embrace this message and never let the traditions of man usurp the authority of the rhema Words of Jesus Christ. 

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Until next time, favor the Word of God over church tradition! 

Check out my new book progress this week.  

“Tradition of mankind cancels out My favor.”
Jesus Christ 

*Unless noted, the names in articles are changed to protect the individual(s) privacy. 

Note: Emphasis is given in some scriptures to show clarity or understanding and is not to take away from the inspirited Word of God. 

When used, the words satan or devil are not capitalized deliberately, because we give him no place in our lives. 

... and yes the word "discipled" isn't a word used by the world, but that of believers. 

Disclaimer: Article information is not meant to be used as treatment for mental or physical issues, but geared toward spiritual awareness. 

What’s New This Week: Click on the photo or link.

The Bait of satan by John Bevere
The Bait of satan:  Living Free From the Deadly Trap of Offense
with DVD by John Bevere

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Content and Image Copyright from Favored1. Do not copy. 
Scripture reference was taken from the New King James Bible Version provided by Gateway Bible.
Image credit: Google Images or Dreamstime Creative Common License if not specified.
Image:  Church Building  Psalm 96:1  Bread of Life  John 6:60  Rhema Word
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Deserting Offense, How to Deal with Offense, Discipled by Jesus, Discipleship, Disciples of Jesus, Daily Favor Blog, Favored1, Christian Living, John Bevere, Bread of Life, Rhema Word of God, Logos Word of God