I am #UNOFFENDED by the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

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Let me set the stage for the Scriptures I’m about to go over from Matthew 11:1-6:

  John the Baptist was Jesus’ slightly older cousin.  John was a prophet that Isaiah prophesied would come as “The voice of one crying in the wilderness, make ready the way of the Lord, make His paths straight” (Isaiah 40:3).  John set the stage in preparation for Jesus to begin His public ministry.  But, just as Jesus would make many enemies along the way, John the Baptist did as well.  The message of the Gospel presents a stumbling block to those living against it.  Matthew 14:1-12 tells us that’s exactly what happened with Herod Antipas, the ruler of Galilee (and one of the sons of Herod the Great who was the ruler when Jesus was born), met John.  Herod Antipas illegally divorced his wife and then had relations with and married his brother’s wife, Herodias.  Herodias is said to have actually been Herod the Great’s granddaughter.  Yupp – that means Herodias would have then been married to not one, but two of her uncle’s (Herod Antipas and his brother, Philip).  John outwardly rebuked this behavior of Herod Antipas and it ended with John’s imprisonment (and eventually to his beheading).

This brings us up to what is happening in John 11.  While John is in prison, he sends some of his followers to ask Jesus in Matthew 11:3 “Are You the Expected One, or should we look for someone else?”  Some commentaries argue if John didn’t fully understand Jesus’ role as the Messiah by asking this question, or if he was sending his disciples to Jesus to receive the answer for themselves.  Was he “asking for himself, or for a friend?”  If he was asking for himself it was possibly because he expected if Jesus was the “Expected One” He would have condemned Herod Antipas, too.  And perhaps, John thought Jesus could have and should have overturned Herod’s rule and saved John from imprisonment.  But Jesus replies to him that He is the Savior who came to deliver us personally, not politically (many expected Jesus to deliver Israel from the Roman rule of those days, not to deliver them from their sins).  If John asked this to have his disciples hear from Jesus themselves that He was indeed the Expected One, it was possibly John’s means of turning them towards the One they should be following from then on.

Blessed are the unoffended of Me.
— Jesus (Matthew 11:6)

Either way, Jesus’ response intrigued me and I have either never read it before, or just never been drawn to it like I was this time.  I feel I have talked about this so often these past few months that it amazed me (and really, it shouldn’t have) that Jesus already addressed this as well.  In non-Christian situations and Christian based situations alike, I have found myself defending my UNOFFENDED belief in God’s Word.  Christians and non-Christians alike are taking offense and feel insulted that this proclaimed “God who is the definition of love and goodness” doesn’t fit into the mold of their mind’s opinions and preferences.  And now more than ever I am confident at exactly what Jesus’ response would be to those offended by Him; Jesus says in Matthew 11:6 “Blessed is he who does not take offense at Me.”  Other versions say:

                “God blesses those who do not fall away because of me.” (NIV)

                “Blessed is the one who is not offended by me.” (ESV)

                “God will bless everyone who doesn’t reject me because of what I do.” (CEV)

                “And blessed is he who keeps from stumbling over Me.” (NASB)

I love that one…The one who doesn’t stumble over Jesus.  Meaning, God has set up rules and a plan for us; do we see them as stumbling blocks to living our life how WE want?  Or do we see them as boundaries for our good to live a life as HE wants?

God has set up rules and a plan for us; do we see them as stumbling blocks to living our life how WE want?  Or do we see them as boundaries for our good to live a life as HE wants?

It seems now certain words that were once used to express major discontent, disapproval, discrimination or dissatisfaction in people/things have become so widely and overly used and misused that they have become watered down in meaning.  One of those words is #offended.  “I’m offended.”  Words I’m sure we’ve frequently heard.  We can’t stand for anything without somebody saying “That offends me.”  Christians that whole-heartedly stand behind the Gospel will offend multitudes**.  Schools, businesses, and governments around this country and the rest of the world make provisions to rules and regulations based on offending somebody with the message of Jesus Christ.

As Christians, when the world goes one way, we have to be prepared to go completely the opposite.  From OFFENDED to UNOFFENDED.  I’m going to suggest we boldly take a different stance that is (1) supported by the Word of God and not only (2) backs our faith but (3) spreads the Gospel.

 Being UNOFFENDED means:

                -When the world goes one way, we will choose whichever way God says is right; whether it is with or against the flow of everyone else.

                -We will defend and proclaim God’s timeless and unchanging message (from Genesis 1:1-Revelation 22:21) with #boldness and #unashamed.

                -To stand up when the world teaches and proclaims false truths and theories opposite of God’s Word; because man will never know greater than God.

                -Not keeping up with political correctness but with Biblical correctness.

                -When our prayers aren’t answered the way we expect, that we still yield to God’s perfect plan and provisions for us.

                -When physical freedoms, healings and deliverance don’t come this side of Heaven, our faith and hope remains unwavered.

                -When murderers, thieves, and wretches like you and me are given a new life we won’t hypocritically proclaim “how #unfair.”

                -We recognize we are not perfect, and sin can/will creep into our life; but we will never cling to sin tighter than our Lord and Savior.

                -We can/will/may have to be humbled of ourSELF, trusting and believing God knows us better than we know ourselves in every area and situation of our life.

                -There may be parts of God’s Word that our heart and mind don’t understand, but because we fully rely on and trust in God alone, we are going to pray that He changes our views and opinions to align with what He says is right.

                -Jesus is the Messiah.  Everybody does not get a “participation award” in this life and automatically qualify as Heaven-bound.  Jesus Christ is who qualifies us and the only Way to life eternal.

                -When others are offended by Christ and bring offense and persecution on us for being #unoffended, in Christ we stand.

From OFFENDED to UNOFFENDED.

 

The Greek word Jesus uses for “take offense” or “fall away” is skandalizō.  And of course, you guessed it – it means offend.  This particular Greek word is used 54 other times throughout 6 books in the New Testament.  It is interesting to note that the Greek Word skandalizō used here in Matthew 6:11 is derived from the Greek Word skandalon which means scandal, offence, or stumbling block.  But I want to also draw attention to its use in Matthew 26:31 for the word “fall” when Jesus says to His disciples at the Last Supper “You will all fall away because of Me this night.”  The night Jesus was betrayed, arrested and beaten before His crucifixion, every one of His disciples (EXCEPT John) did what Jesus says we will be blessed if we DON’T do; they fell away.  They left Jesus’ side because they were scared of the world.  The world was coming at them and threatening them and no longer did they have the immediate safety of the Lord next to them.  They couldn’t handle the persecution they would have to face for siding with Jesus UNOFFENDED. 

One of my favorite “tidbits” to note is that while all the other disciples left Jesus’ side that night not to return until after the crucifixion, John remained and followed Jesus to the cross.  John was blessed for it.  John was the only disciple of Jesus that did not then go on to die a martyr’s death.  Judas committed suicide, all the other disciples were martyred throughout the New Testament, and John died an old man outside of Scriptures written timeline.

Get behind Me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s
— Jesus (Matthew 16:23)

I get it; that seems scary to me to be faced with an angry mob of people in your face saying “You’re with Jesus, aren’t you?”  “You’re one of them.”  I’m sure just posting this is guaranteed to have an angry mob either to my face or behind my back saying the same.  But here’s the thing, we can’t allow the pressures of the world to change what we proclaim, as it did to Peter who denied Him.  We can’t allow the pressures of the world to change where we stand by Jesus’ side, as it did with the rest of the disciples who fled from Him.  The angry mob that crucified Jesus was fueled by the evil enemy and they were wrong.  It is wise to remember the battles we fight (the angry mobs we may face) are not “against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” Ephesians 6:12 ESV.  It’s not people we are up against, it’s the same evil enemy fueling this world to stumble over Jesus; to be offended by Jesus.  “Get behind Me, Satan!  You are a stumbling block to Me; for you are not setting your mind on God’s interests, but man’s” Matthew 16:23 NASB (emphasis mine).  I choose to set my mind on God’s interests, not man’s.  I choose to be on the side of those UNOFFENDED and not stumbling over Jesus, rather than being a stumbling block to Jesus.

I am #UNOFFENDED by the Gospel of Jesus Christ!

We can’t allow the pressures of the world to change what we proclaim, as it did to Peter who denied Him.  We can’t allow the pressures of the world to change where we stand by Jesus’ side, as it did with the rest of the disciples who fled from Him.

 

If you are, too I challenge you to #SHARE this blog with others who need to hear the message. There is a blessing for those unoffended.

 

“Blessed are the unoffended of Me.” –Jesus (Matthew 11:6)

 

**Separate blog to come on this.

Test Time! Do You Have The Answer?

Hallelujah I just finished my semester!  {Happy Dance!}  For those of you who may not know, I am currently in my final semester at Liberty University Online, perusing my degree in Religion.  I only have 4 classes to go but I take about 1 a year so…if you see me in 2 years I still may not be done.  That’s ok, God told me it doesn’t matter how slow I go just not to stop. 

I only take about one class a year because each course is 8 weeks and after those 8 weeks of staying up until 2 or 3 in the morning on top of doing all my usual responsibilities as wife, mother, teacher, speaker, etc, etc, etc..I am EXHAUSTED!!  And it takes me the next 44 weeks of the year to catch up on all my sleep, all the laundry I have forsaken (not forsaking doing it but putting it away), and the house I haven’t given as much attention to (because first and foremost I give that attention to my children before dusting and mopped floors), and everything else I have going on.  I take my courses very seriously and anything less than an A is not acceptable to me.  I am working for the Lord and I don’t want to come at anything He has given me half-heartedly.

God may test us but He never tempts us,

All this to say…while I was taking my final exam it got me thinking about tests that we face in this life.  Trials can be a lot like tests.  Now, I want to be careful explaining my verbiage so you don’t confuse what I’m saying here as trials being like temptations.  Because God may test us but He never tempts us; James 1:13 assures us of that.  Temptation leads us to something that we shouldn’t be doing; it tends to give us a strong feeling of desiring to do something we may or may not know that we shouldn’t do.  God does not tempt us.  But testing is different.  

I homeschool my oldest 3 children and every week they have a spelling and a math test I give them.  To be honest (my children don’t know this) I’m not really concerned with their grades on their tests.  I always tell them I’m giving them the test to find out how much they know.  I do grade their test at the end and usually if they do really badly it tells me they didn’t even try.  And then there are consequences to some of their privileges.  But, when they are getting A’s and B’s and even occasionally I’ll accept a C if I know I’ve given them really challenging problems.  But it’s not that I really care about the grade, but it lets me know #1 they tried – meaning they studied for it and really attempted to grasp the lesson, and #2 it helps me to gauge where they can advance and where they may need more teaching. 

When God thinks we’re ready, He tests us to see where we’re at with opportunities to advance in Kingdom work and growth.

See, if we are prepared, tests (and trials) actually set us up with an opportunity to move forward.  Jesus was so often called ‘Teacher.’  And that’s what He is.  He teaches us.  And when He thinks we’re ready, He tests us to see where we’re at with opportunities to advance in Kingdom work and growth.  It took me years to get to where I am today.  It came with a lot of studying the Word, a lot of prayers, a lot of drawing nearer to the Lord in a relationship with Him.  Do I have it all together to pass every single test?  Absolutely not.  I am still, and forever will be on this side of eternity, learning and wanting to move forward with new opportunities to serve the Lord to greater extents.  But learning takes time.  Thankfully, we have a patient Teacher. 

But here’s another question…  How many of you get nervous right before a test?  Just hearing the word makes your stomach fall?  Most of the time I may know something like the back of my hand and the moment you say I’m going to be tested, I freeze up.  As I prepared to take my final I was as ready as I could be, but I still prayed to God in such a nervous way because I was so worried I wouldn’t do well.   But what a great feeling I got when that test was over and I received that good grade.  After my final was done I threw my hands up saying “thank you God!  Hallelujah!”  I was so happy the class was over, so happy the tests were over, and so happy I passed with an A!  But let me tell you – if I hadn’t worked hard this semester, if I didn’t study, didn’t prepare, and didn’t do the readings – I can guarantee I would be a lot more worried about the final outcome of this course and I probably would not have done as well as I did to excel and move forward. 

God aims to move us forward into a relationship with Him; He wants to move us forward spiritually.

Likewise, just like school tests can cause some nervous pain, tests and trials we go through in life can sometimes cause us pain as well.  This world is hurt and broken.  Ultimately the testing and trials God gives us aren’t aimed to harm us, but they also aren’t aimed to move us forward physically, monetarily, or for any personal success/gain – even though that is sometimes a secondary outcome, but ultimately God aims to move us forward into a relationship with Him; He wants to move us forward spiritually. 

God tests us in hopes of growing us in our faith SO THAT we may be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing..”

But as an encouraging reminder for you (and for me) whatever trials and tests we may be facing right now, even though they can sometimes be so great, and they can feel insurmountable, and can leave us with a feeling of uncertainty, let us view them as learning opportunities for God to grow us in our faith.  Let us view these opportunities as James 1:3-4 says “knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance, and let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  Just like I test my children to grow them in hopes of perfecting their spelling and math skills at their level, God tests us in hopes of growing us in our faith SO THAT we may be “perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.”  <—YES!  That is exactly what I desire.  Who doesn’t want those results from their Teacher?  Not only that, but there is an eternal bonus that comes after we have endured those tests in growing our faith that James 1:12 tells us about.  He says “blessed is the one who endures trials, because when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life that God has promised to those who love him.” 

There is no test on earth given by any man made or man run institution that will produce results like the crown of life.  This is something I always strive to remember as I teach my children and raise them up.  It truly doesn’t matter how well they do on any spelling or math test, on any history or science report, if they can’t pass the test of true faith shown in Jesus Christ.  My first and foremost purpose in my role as their mother and teacher is to live a life showing them the obvious answer to the greatest test we will all have to take when we stand before the Throne and have to give an answer as to the life of faith we did/did not live while here on Earth.

My blessing to each of you, as we face this life of trials, is that you may be “strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the Kingdom of light” (Colossians 1:11-12).  Amen.