One of the greatest central truths I have learned in my life is there seems to always be some type of offence in me.  The longer I go with God the more I see and feel these offences in me that well up in my flesh to take control of my heart, mind, and of course whatsoever is in our heart will come out our mouth.  I am amazed just when I think I am over getting offended someone says or does something that touches an offence buried in my heart and I say or do something (usually dumber than what the other person said or did) and I am exposed for the carnal, fleshly man I am at times.  Did you know we cannot be offended if there is no offense in us.  What happens when we get offended is a word or action from someone reaches out to us and touches the offence laying dormant in our heart and when it comes alive all hell breaks loose in our spirit. Now there is some good news and bad news here. The bad news is our words usually alienate our friends and strengthen our enemies hand in our lives (at times like this we usually do not pray for them as Jesus asked us to) not to mention the hatred and wrath that begins to move in our heart, but the good news is this offence has given God an opportunity to work in our lives by showing us what wicked and ugly thoughts and feelings are buried deep in our heart. Believe it or not the continual sin and immaturity of the Church at Corinth was the very thing God used to bring repentance and restoration.  God allowed these things to go on so that something was moving in the Church which allowed correction the opportunity to work in their lives.  We can then either agree with God what He is saying about us is true (the Biblical definition of the word – confess) or call God a liar and reject His work in our lives. Yes I said God’s work in our lives.  God will even use an offence in us to reveal our heart condition and show us how WE ARE NOT like His precious Son Jesus Christ. My teacher Charles Haun would always say God does not play fair; He will use everything in our lives as we allow Him to reveal our nasty attitudes and ungodly character. Did you know God is more concerned about our character than He is about our ability (even to be used as a vessel to do miracles) or our faithful dedicated service to the church or Him. God is very concerned about our character, He would rather have a child that knows how to move with Him in righteousness than one He can count on to get the job done.  Both are needed in God’s economics, but the one who can move in righteousness knows His heart and this my friend is what God is after with His children, just as earthly parents are after with their children.  When we get offended again and again it is a sign we have refused to allow God to deal and judge in areas of our lives.  When we get offended there is no peace in us, our home, or any relationship we touch, but that is not God’s intention for us oh no, God’s intention for us is, “Great peace have they which love thy law: and nothing shall offend them.”  (Psalms 119:165)  In our personal lives and in the relationships with others in the world we are to live our lives by, “Giving no offence in any thing, that the ministry be not blamed: 4But in all things approving ourselves as the ministers of God, in much patience, in afflictions, in necessities, in distresses,  5In stripes, in imprisonments, in tumults, in labours, in watchings, in fastings;  6By pureness, by knowledge, by longsuffering, by kindness, by the Holy Ghost, by love unfeigned, 7By the word of truth, by the power of God, by the armour of righteousness on the right hand and on the left, 8By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich ; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”  (2 Corinthians 6:3-10)  Here Paul lays out our guide to daily living with Christians and non-Christians alike in the world in verse 3-10, please reread them again and examine your life here.  I know I fall extremely short in many areas here, but still the standard is before me to measure up to.  I am amazed when I read verses 9 and 10, “As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed; 10As sorrowful, yet alway rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing all things.”  What truth, how do we measure up to these words?  Can we ever measure up to these words?  In this life I think not, but still that does not excuse us from not meeting God’s expectation. Oh how far we are from what God expects of us.  Lord please help us to want to be like You.

Now there is another side of offence in the Bible that many people do not know about because it is not taught in most churches today.  Most sermons (not messages from God) teach about a good moral meaning in how to live our lives in a good and decent way, but that never get down to the heart of God whereby we become the work of God.  Not what we do for Him, but our very lives is the workmanship (Ephesians 2:10) of God.  Now I really enjoy speaking to Bible School students especially third year students they think they know everything.  When I start I tell them I have a goal and a target in mind; the target is their heart and the goal of my words is to strike their heart and see how low I can get them in their thinking and in their heart condition, because the way up in God is down and the lower we can go in God with our self-worth, self-seeking, and selfishness the higher we can go in God no more no less.  At the same measure we can go down we can learn and go up.  In Constanta, Romania I had a Bible school Students tell me at first he rejected my words and thought I was crazy, but as he listened and saw my method (and madness) before too long my words and heart condition for him captured him for the Gospel. There is a spiritual principle moving here; the preaching of the Word of God is to offend us.  When I minister the word of God (as He gives it to me) my intention is not to make someone happy, feel good in their heart, or cause them to jump to their feet and bobble their head back and forth, oh no my intention is to bring them down in their eyes, to stick them in their heart with the word of God and bring them to a place of silent retrospection and reflection.  As with the Bible School students my goal is to see how low I can get them to come down in their eyes so that Jesus can be lifted up.  The word of God is to prick our heart, it is to cut us to the quick, it is to open the eyes of our understanding so that we will be able to see the Lord high and lifted up so that His train can fill the temple of our heart.  The word of God is to be a rock on which we are to stumble and fall to our knees.  Peter tells us, “Unto you therefore which believe he is precious: but unto them which be disobedient, the stone which the builders disallowed (Jesus the word), the same is made the head of the corner,  8And a stone of stumbling, and a rock of offence, even to them which stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed. 9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvellous light:” (1 Peter 2:7-9) If we are going to be “a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people” something will have to be used to cleanse our lives from the filth of this world so that we can be chosen by God and become the “royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people”  He so desires we become. It is the word of God; the Gospel message that offends us as it exposes the sin in our lives. And as we see our sinful heart condition as compared to the word of God coming to us God is able to draw us unto Himself.  This offence is not until death like us getting offended at our brothers and sisters, but is an offence unto life. Remember Paul words in 2 Corinthians, “By honour and dishonour, by evil report and good report: as deceivers, and yet true; 9As unknown, and yet well known; as dying, and, behold, we live; as chastened, and not killed;” (2 Corinthians 6:8-9) The offence of the preaching of the word of God kills us, but it makes us alive at the same time.  The more you look at these verses the more you have to scratch your head and wonder. Paul told the Church in Rome, “Wherefore? Because they sought it not by faith, but as it were by the works of the law. For they stumbled at that stumblingstone; 33As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.”  (Romans 9:32-33)  The Christians at this time in Rome were into a works salvation as most Churches in America and the world are today.  They stumbled over the words of Paul when he said, “O foolish Galatians, who hath bewitched you, that ye should not obey the truth, before whose eyes Jesus Christ hath been evidently set forth, crucified among you? 2This only would I learn of you, Received ye the Spirit by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith? 3Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect by the flesh? 4Have ye suffered so many things in vain? if it be yet in vain.  5He therefore that ministereth to you the Spirit, and worketh miracles among you, doeth he it by the works of the law, or by the hearing of faith?”  (Galatians 3:1-5) and when he said, “Therefore leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection; not laying again the foundation of repentance from dead works, and of faith toward God,” (Hebrews 6:1) or when James said, “Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.  18Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.”  (James 2:17-18)  All of these words caused the people who were seriously listening to stumble at them, but for the ones who were serious about their walk with the Lord got up from their knees with a new sense of purpose, commitment, and new calling, “Be ye holy for I am holy.” What else in our lives can God use (of His own) to hone and refine our character?  Not suffering this is ours for the softening of our heart.  Certainly not God’s blessings these are ours to give away so that others may receive.  How about troubles and persecution?  No, these are ours to work righteousness and Godliness in us.  There are two ways for our soul to be cleansed.  The first is through affliction, anguish, distress, and inward torment.  And the second is through the fire of a burning love, a love impatient and hungry.  Make no mistake my friend if you are serious about walking with God He will get us one way or the other.