Thursday, June 11, 2009

Dealing with Offense part 3

1 The word of the LORD came to Jonah son of Amittai: 2 "Go to the great city of Nineveh and preach against it, because its wickedness has come up before me." 3 But Jonah ran away from the LORD and headed for Tarshish.

Today I want to look at someone who did things the wrong way. Everyone knows the story of Jonah being swallowed by the whale and how God rescued him, and a few people know why he was in the whale in the first place. But do you know why he was running from God? You may have guessed from the title, but he was OFFENDED!!! God wanted him to go and preach in the one place that Jonah hated more than anything else. We don't understand slavery and oppression like he was going through, but we do understand what it's like to get picked on.

I think Jonah knew God, and knew that He would punish people who did evil. In fact, the only thing that was keeping Jonah going was knowing that God would punish the people of Ninevah for all of the horrible things they had done. I wonder if he often prayed for the destruction of that city. I bet he did. So imagine his surprise when one day God tells him to go to Ninevah and preach repentance. He didn't want them to repent, he wanted them to SUFFER!!! So instead of following God's plan, he decided to try and avoid God, and because of that He was swallowed by a whale.

The moral of todays story? Let go of your offenses and listen to God, or you might end up somewhere you don't want to be.


Monday, June 8, 2009

Dealing with Offense part 2

1But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. 2At dawn he appeared again in the temple courts, where all the people gathered around him, and he sat down to teach them. 3The teachers of the law and the Pharisees brought in a woman caught in adultery. They made her stand before the group 4and said to Jesus, "Teacher, this woman was caught in the act of adultery. 5In the Law Moses commanded us to stone such women. Now what do you say?" 6They were using this question as a trap, in order to have a basis for accusing him.

But Jesus bent down and started to write on the ground with his finger. 7When they kept on questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." 8Again he stooped down and wrote on the ground.

9At this, those who heard began to go away one at a time, the older ones first, until only Jesus was left, with the woman still standing there. 10Jesus straightened up and asked her, "Woman, where are they? Has no one condemned you?"

11"No one, sir," she said.
"Then neither do I condemn you," Jesus declared. "Go now and leave your life of sin."

Often when we read this passage, we focus on the people and their intent to trick Jesus (otherwise, why didn't they bring the man? It takes two...). And it's true. The only reason they brought this woman was because they wanted to see what Jesus would do. But I want to look at this passage from a slightly different angle.

Leviticus 20:10 says this:

10 " 'If a man commits adultery with another man's wife—with the wife of his neighbor—both the adulterer and the adulteress must be put to death.
These men had the law on their side. Forget the fact that they were probably waiting outside her house so they could capture her, they were in the right. The law clearly says she should die. And no one would have given Jesus a hard time for agreeing with the law. But instead Jesus says "If any one of you is without sin, let him be the first to throw a stone at her." And at that, the men dropped their stones and walked away.

We've all been in situations where someone has hurt us, and according to the law we have the right to get them back. We say things like: "It's okay for me to hate them, you don't know what they did to me." or we talk to our friends and say: "Just thought you'd like to know, so and so did this to me." And you take those rocks in your hands and begin to throw them at the person, because it's your right to do so.

But Jesus had a different take on this. Have you ever sinned? Have you ever cut someone off in the hallway at school? Have you ever gotten carried away and done something you regretted? If you have, and you've been offered forgiveness, it is your responsibility to do the same to others. When someone hurts you, you have a choice to make. I can take the stone in my hand and throw it at them, or I can drop it and walk away. But as you're thinking about your choice, remember that God took the rock that had your name on it, and instead he threw it at Jesus.


Thursday, May 28, 2009

Dealing with Offense part 1

How important is respect? When I asked this question in youth last night, nearly everyone in the room gave it a 4 or 5, on a scale of 1 to 5. As I was mulling over last nights activities, I thought of a few other examples of what we talked about, but rather than dragging this series on for another 3 weeks I figured that I could just say what I need to in a couple blogs. But before I get to the topic, here are a couple quotes on respect:

My uncle's dying wish was to have me sitting on his lap. He was in the electric chair.

I tell ya when I was a kid, all I knew was rejection. My yo-yo, it never came back!

My wife and I were happy for twenty years. Then we met.

When I played in the sandbox the cat kept covering me up.
If you're breathing, respect is probably a big deal for you. Last night in youth we talked about the how hurtful offense is, and how it gives the enemy a foothold in our lives. I'm convinced that this is one of the number one ways that he attacks us, because it makes us ineffective in the Kingdom of God. Ephesians 4 says this:

26"In your anger do not sin": Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry, 27and do not give the devil a foothold.
When we allow ourselves to harbor bitterness, we give the devil a chance to attack us without even realizing. The problem with offense is that often times we have the "right" to be angry. If someone hurts us, we feel justified talking about them behind their back. But that's not what God wants for us.

I'll explore this more in later posts, but this one is getting too long.