A Whole Lot of Shaking Going On

earthquakeWe are living in exciting, but turbulent times. God is opening up new doors of opportunity for His people to embrace His call to be the salt and light of the world. Our nation is going through a major shaking. This is causing a ripple effect in the nations of the earth, many of which are going through their own upheavals. And, without a doubt, the Church, especially in our country, is also going through a shaking. There is more to come, for sure. Just as in the natural, a building’s foundations are often exposed and laid bare in an earthquake, so, in the spiritual, the Church’s underpinnings are quickly coming to light.

God’s purpose in allowing these convulsions is manifold. His primary interest is always the human heart. The heart is the foundation of our relationship with Him. He always knows the heart of every person, but we very often do not realize the condition of our own hearts. We easily deceive ourselves by claiming to believe certain things yet our actions prove otherwise. Sometimes, we are in need of a rude awakening, so God offends our minds to reveal what we truly believe in our hearts.

Scripture tells us no one but God is capable of knowing the heart (Acts 15:8), but Jesus also said that out of the overflow of the heart, the mouth speaks (Luke 6:45). We can gauge where our own hearts are if we will listen to the words we speak. The same goes for what we post on social media. It has been glaringly obvious that so many people, believers included, have a lot of anger, hatred, prejudice, rebellion, pride, and deception in their hearts. God is not ok with that, and if we truly see Him as our Lord and Savior, neither should we be. He is committed to showing us what He sees, not to shame us, but to set us free.

In addition, many of us have turned our focus from God as Savior, to trusting in a man, a political party, or certain ideology to solve our problems. No human being, knowledge, or system can fix what is wrong in our nation or the Church. If we don’t already know that, we are in the process of learning it now. Not only have we misplaced our allegiance, but we are allowing it to divide us from one another. We have taken on the offenses of our culture,   when we should be displaying the love and mercy of Jesus to those who don’t know Him. Many have displayed great passion when defending their particular political beliefs; do they exhibit the same or greater passion for their Lord?

I am reminded of this passage, “This is what the LORD Almighty says: ‘In a little while I will once more shake the heavens and the earth, the sea and the dry land. I will shake all nations, and what is desired by all nations will come, and I will fill this house with glory,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘The silver is Mine and the gold is Mine,’ declares the LORD Almighty. ‘The glory of this present house will be greater than the glory of the former house,’ says the LORD Almighty. ‘And in this place I will grant peace,’ declares the LORD Almighty.”  God is shaking everything that can be shaken so that our foundations can be restored, both in our nation, and in His Church. The end result will be His glory, His kingdom, on earth, as it is in heaven, and a bride worthy of His Son.

 

 

 

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Is it Wrong to Need to Be Right?

Animals___Wild_artiodactyls_Two_deer_butt_097461_Have you ever been around someone who seemed to have a need to always be right? Perhaps you feel that way. I know I did for way too many years. If someone said something I disagreed with, or knew to be wrong, I was always quick to point out their error, or tell them why what they said was incorrect. Unfortunately, for those around me, it was terribly annoying to say the least. My attitude certainly didn’t win me any friends, and often drove my family crazy. In these increasingly dark times we live in, the need to be right has grown by epidemic proportions. It is especially evident in both the news media and the world of social media. Maybe it seems that way because social media relentlessly provides a platform for every thought, word, and deed, both good and bad, of millions of users.

Everyone has a point to prove, an opinion to express, a grievance to air, an offense to take up. Those who believe they are always right do not hold back from sharing it with whomever will listen, and even the ones who couldn’t care less. It is a sign of deep insecurity, pride, and fear. It often becomes a means of controlling those around them, especially when anger is involved. Insecurity causes people to constantly second guess themselves. It is a lie to believe our security comes from our our own ability to know right and wrong. We believe we have to continually justify our actions, opinions, thoughts, etc. If someone dares to question us in these matters, we become defensive and rationalize our decisions. That defensiveness can escalate to the point of anger and even violence, as we see so much in our world today.

Pride refuses to admit when we are wrong, and fear motivates us to hide, or to fight back, to prove to ourselves we are okay. Denial and/or anger become tools by which we control others, hoping they won’t expose us for who we secretly fear we really are. But this is such a miserable existance! I know, because I’ve been there. When God began to open my eyes to the truth and set me free, I found such freedom in letting go of that need to be right. The enemy has so many convinced that if we let go, we will cease to matter, or even exist. Nothing, of course, could be further from the truth.

When we begin to realize, believe, and walk in the security of who we are in Christ, our affirmation and validation come from Him. We no longer need it from people, though it is not wrong when people give it out of a sincere heart. In addition, we will discover the futility and foolishness of having to justify our opinions, thoughts, and actions. Only God is right, one hundred percent of the time. Letting go of the need to be right takes humility, the opposite of pride. It is so freeing to acknowledge your weakness, to admit when you’re wrong, and to give yourself permission to be human – even to fail. These things don’t mean you are a failure. The willingness to face your frailty means you are growing in truth and maturity – and freedom!

Holding onto the need to be right is wrong because it robs you of the freedom of being yourself – warts, wrinkles and all. It will drive you to the point of exhaustion. It will cheat you out of genuine, life-giving relationships by always being guarded, suspicious, and quick to correct. It blinds you to the perspectives and gifts of others, many who are more gifted or talented than you, those you can learn from and value for their unique beauty and creativity. Ultimately, the need to be right steals your life and will leave you full of regret. The old saying, “Hindsight is always 20/20” is true. Take it from one who has been there. Thank God He has given us freedom in and through Christ!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Guarding Your Heart Against the Danger of Offense

heart_0These days, in our politically correct society, everyone is offended at something or someone, it seems. You hear it on TV; read it on social media; see it in the workplace; even in the Church. Offense has become an epidemic. According to the dictionary, offense means, “something that offends or displeases; the feeling of resentful displeasure caused; the act of attacking; attack or assault.” Everyone has an opinion, and the slightest disagreement often leads to offense. This violation can escalate to anger, hate, even violence. At times it appears that some people are looking for something to be offended about.

The biblical definition of offense means, “to cause one to stumble or fall away; to see in another what I disapprove of and what hinders me from acknowledging his authority; to cause one to judge unfavorably or unjustly of another; to make indignant.” In Matthew 13 as Jesus taught in the synagogue, many became offended with Him. They couldn’t understand His wisdom and authority because they only knew Him as Mary’s and Joseph’s son. In chapter 11, He told HIs disciples to tell John the Baptist, who was in prison at the time, “Blessed is he who is not offended because of Me.” This was after He recounted the things He was doing – healing the sick, raising the dead, and preaching to the poor.

In the parable of the seed and the sower, Jesus said there would be some who would hear the Word and receive it with joy, but, “…since they have no root, they last only a short time. When trouble or persecution comes because of the word, they quickly fall away.” Having no root can cause one to be easily offended. Perhaps one of the most sobering verses on the subject is Matthew 24:10. Jesus is teaching His disciples on the signs of the end times and says, “At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other… but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved.” In other words, when believers are not rooted in the Word and trouble or persecution comes, many will become offended with God and those who speak truth, and fall away from the faith. I believe this prophecy is beginning to come to pass.

At it’s core, offense is rooted in pride. This becomes apparent when one takes offense if his views are disagreed with. To think that everything you believe is one hundred percent correct is pride. To attack someone for disagreeing with you is arrogant. The people in the synagogue who took offense at Jesus did so because they believed He was just a common man – the son and brother of ordinary people they knew. His words and anointing defied those beliefs. John the Baptist knew well what Scripture taught about the coming Messiah. It was prophesied He would set captives free. Not only was he in prison, but he was Jesus’ first cousin. Surely Jesus would set him free, he likely thought. Jesus, knowing this, forewarned him about taking offense when He didn’t.

Believers today, especially in our Western, comfort driven culture, are woefully illiterate when it comes to the Bible. Just last year, a study done by LifeWay Research and the United  Kingdom Bible Society found that:

  • Only 45% of regular church attenders read their Bible more than once a week.
  • Almost 1 in 5 churchgoers say they never read the Bible at all.
  • More than half of Evangelicals believe that the Holy Spirit is a force and not a personal being.
  • In the United Kingdom, almost 1 in 3 couldn’t identify the Nativity as part of the Bible
  • 27% of British parents think Superman is or might be a biblical story.

Not only is this appalling, but it clearly shows the unprepared state of most believers for the times we are living in, especially in light of Matthew 24:10. And this is in a society that has the greatest access to teachings, conferences, seminars, churches, etc.! There are no doubt many reasons for this, but more importantly, what can we do to guard ourselves from the trap of offense?

It is to our benefit to first of all, take responsibility for our own spiritual growth. While teachings, sermons, conferences and such can be helpful, we must make time for God’s Word, reading, studying, and meditating upon it. Our intimacy with Him depends upon it! We cannot know someone we never spend time with or listen to. Time spent in His Word will transform the way we think, free us from pride, and help us learn humility, if we apply it to our lives. Doing this consistently will help us become rooted and grounded in the truth of His Word and His nature, and guard our hearts against offense.