Thursday, 22 November 2012

Some thoughts on dealing with offences

How do I deal with offenses?

The other morning the Lord showed me something in a dream where I had caused offense to someone and so I asked the Lord what it was that I had done that created that offense.  There was nothing that came to mind that I felt I needed to go to that person to apologise for, nothing that was obvious, but then the Lord showed me.  I had judged that person in my heart and in so doing was holding that person in a different light than I had previously.  That may not seem much and I know we all do it, but if we truly love people then we no longer see them with the thing we have judged them for but rather we see them as Christ sees them.  Free from sin, free from judgement with all the possibilities, hopes and future that there is in them.  We see all their good qualities, the good characteristics.  We no longer see the sin or not even the sin, but the thing we think they may need to change in, but we see them as Christ sees them, beautifully and wonderfully created with a hope and a future, we see the gold and not the dirt.

This is huge if you stop and see the ramifications of that judgement in my heart.  As a leader in ministry, do we then allow that person to continue on ministering?  When we judge someone in their sin or in their weakness, or in their personality, we say in our hearts "prove yourself before we allow you to minister to others" hence bringing people under law again. Or we don't trust you, in effect saying you have to have it all together before I will let you do anything again.  It is no different in our lives with the people we judge and then hold them at arms length in our lives because we see them differently than we did prior to that failure or difference.  But Jesus never did that.  He knew what was in Judas's heart and yet he still allowed him to hold the money.  He knew that Peter was going to deny him three times and yet he still built his church on him.  He knew we were going to crucify him on the cross but he still went to the cross saying father forgive them, they do not know what they are doing.   1 Cor 13 always hoping, always trusting..

Proverbs 18:19  An offended brother is like a fortified city whose walls cannot be broken down.

What do we do with offense?  Whether we have received it or if we have given it to others?
Like in proverbs we become this fortified city and don't let people in because of fear of hurt or for whatever reason, lack of trust etc.  But the Lord doesn't want us to go down that track.  He wants us to learn to deal with offenses so that our hearts remain open to him and to others.

Jeremiah 12:5-6  "If you have raced with men on foot and they have worn you out, how can you compete with horses?  If you stumble in safe country, how will you manage in the thickets by the Jordan? "  The Lord is wanting to teach us how to deal with things like offenses so like this scripture above we don't get worn out in the safe ground so that when things come from other places we know how to deal with it in such a way that it doesn't effect us. 

We grow tired and weary  in our own strength but the Lord wants to teach us that when we trust in him to sort things out, when we let him be the judge and the vindicator, we will rise up on eagles wings and not grow tired and weary,  that we will run and not grow faint.

So on a practical level how do we deal with offenses?  Here are some thoughts that may help you.  Obviously not the be all and end all to how to deal with offenses, but some things that help me on a daily basis, and may help you.

For me, firstly I need to check my heart and see what offenses there are?  Search my heart oh God, show me any wicked way in me?
Then realising that I have hurt someone with my words or my actions, I ask the Lord for forgiveness and bless that person.  But I need to also check, Is this something that I need to go to that person and apologise for?.  Would it have wounded them?  And if so then I would go to that person.  Once done, it is finished.  No longer to come under condemnation again because I have done my best and made every effort to keep the unity of the spirit in the bond of peace.  Whether or not they forgive you is not your responsibility, it is theirs.  They can no longer hold you accountable for it because you have brought it before the Lord and before them.

If someone has offended me with their words or actions?
Sometimes people say things and sometimes there is a ring of truth to their words and we don't want to hear it.  So we need to sift out what is of God and what is not.  What are the words that are true and not take offense to the truth even though it may hurt at times, but to listen to it as it may be something we can't see about ourselves and in someone bringing it, may actually help us to move forward.  But sometimes there are words that are spoken in anger or from a place of judgement toward us, that are not of the Lord and those words we need to let go over us.  In proverbs it says about a "fluttering curse has no place to land".  I have found that when I am doing well the things people say about me don't effect me because I can recognise the truth, but when I am not doing so well emotionally or spiritually, those words that people say are like arrows in my heart that wound.  They may be the same words but because of how I am reacting or feeling about things, I take it differently, not their problem but mine.

I find that these situations are all good and that is why Paul writes so much to rejoice and again I say rejoice, why - because the things that come at us like this, help us to find out and discern who we really are in Christ and who we are not and so when having worked through all this, we find it easier for things to fall away that are not of God, but first we have to learn the truth about ourselves and know who we are in Christ.  We can easily be offended but we have to make a choice not to take offense and to give to God what is not ours to pick up, what other people are giving us that is actually their own judgements or the lens in which they see through, or perhaps even the words that have been spoken over their own lives by others which they are now projecting onto you out of their own hurt.

Sometimes we need to go to those people who have hurt us and say to them that they are hurting us, especially if it continues, as sometimes people do not even know that their words or actions hurt us and I am sure their intention is not to hurt.  Sometimes peoples personality just rub us up the wrong way and we can be offended simply because their personality is different to mine and therefore I judge their behaviour against the measure I set as perhaps sin when it is not and that is something I have to deal with.

Each of us look through lenses and we all see things differently but the stable and sure foundation is found in the bible and what the Lord would say about you and with that we need to line everything up with.  We need to learn to give grace and forgiveness to others as Christ has given it to us and doesn't hold us in that place of sin.  As he has forgiven us our sins so we too are to forgive others theirs.  Prov 19:11 "A man's wisdom give him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense."   We pray for wisdom but to get wisdom we have to go through things which lead us and teach us, which give us the wisdom that we have been asking for.  We know we have truly forgiven someone when we see that person and not find out hearts holding back and protecting ourselves.   So let me encourage you to search your heart before the Lord and see if there is any offenses in your heart that would make you like the barred gates of a citadel (prov 18:19) that nothing can get through or whether our hearts are soft toward man and toward God.

Change is coming - be willing to move from the familiar

Things are about to change quite suddenly I believe.  And in this unexpected change people are used to the old way of doing things and so it takes a little while for people to adjust to the new way.  I saw in a dream that the entrance of our house had changed and like any building that you go into when you are used to it a certain way, when it is different we are not quite sure where to go or what the new layout is.  And so I encourage you in the change not to just walk away, get frustrated, or feel you can't enter in, it is just different.  Even our closest friends may not understand.  And in that change often there can be a flood of words that can come and try and bring destruction, and I saw ministries crashing as things changed and I saw the enemy trying to kill,  but the Lord encouraged me through Lev 26  that when we obey him, then no harm can hurt us outside of his will.  We are His and He has covenanted with us His protection and safety and so I don't need to be afraid.

We are coming into a different season, different perhaps in ways that we have not seen God work that way before and is it even of God?  But we need to discern and not just walk away.  We need to throw out that 'familiar spirit' that each of us have, we are used to things the same way, and allow God to show us new ways that we have not known before.  None of us like change but change is usually always good for us, it grows us, it expands us, it shows us new things we had not seen before.  We also need to be aware that in this season the enemy is wanting to kill and destroy and also counterfeit what the Lord is doing, but the word says that when we submit to God, resist the devil and he will flee.  He cannot touch us when we submit to God and resist the devil and like Job when he stood on what he believed in God, he saw the blessing more than he had before even though at times he was tempted to give up and encouraged by others to give up, because of what he was suffering at the time.  Believe in what you know in God and in the Spirit and in yourself and you will see things you have never known before.  

Monday, 19 November 2012

Hard heartedness, blame shifting, not taking responsibility and pride! 1 Peter 5:5 "All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because ,"God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble."

Two nights ago I felt something in the spirit shift and it felt like a 'hard heartedness toward God' that came upon my spirit and I thought this is unusual.  Didn't feel like worshipping, listening to praise music or anything which is highly unusual for me and so I wondered what was happening.  Then yesterday morning something else happened that made Jim & I reflect and ask the Lord what was happening in the spirit and the things that have come out in the past 24 hours are things I want to share with you.

Blame shifting, not taking responsibility and a hard heartedness toward the things of the Lord and others.  Big heavy topics but ones that need addressing I believe and ones we all have issues with at some time in our lives, but topics which all lead back to pride.  But when we keep out hearts soft and open to the Lord and to others, we release heaven to earth and we see things shift for the better in our circumstances and in our relationships, in fact in everything.

There have been many times in our lives where things have come at us that we had choices to make.  To follow what the word of the Lord said, trusting that he would work all things together for good, or to follow our emotions, our hurts and move on, or seek justification/retribution for actions done to us or whatever the case has been.  Its also a place where we can choose to stay in 'self pity' because it is actually easier than forgiving those who have hurt us or asking for forgiveness for what we have done to others.

1 Peter 5:5  All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble".
James 4:6  But he gives us more grace.  That is why Scripture says:  "God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble".  Submit yourselves, then, to God.  Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.  Come near to God and he will come near to you."

Grace is the key.  We cannot do it.  We need God to come into our situations and when we wait upon him we begin to get an understanding of actually what Grace is.  Grace is a word we hear a lot about but to really understand what it is we have to walk of journey where we need God to step into things and see his hand in it.  Where we see his provision come in a way we never thought possible.  Where we receive strength to forgive someone who has harmed us.  Where we can love someone who may have damaged our family.  Where restoration happens because God does something in us to love and forgive  others that we could not do ourselves.

In Jonah 2:8 "Those who cling to worthless idols forfeit the grace that could be theirs.  But I, with a song of thanksgiving, will sacrifice to you.  What I have vowed I will make good.  Salvation comes from the Lord."
When we hold onto worthless idols such as pride, self righteousness, selfishness, finances, anger, unforgiveness, whatever it may be, we forfeit the grace from God.  We forfeit his help coming in to our situations.  But when we let go of those idols in our lives and allow him to come in, we see amazing things happen, not only with us but also with those around us.

We have had some times in our lives where it has been so 'black' we have not seen any way through anything and that place has been absolutely horrible and if God didn't intervene I don't know where I would be today, but I choose to trust in the Lord and his word and we saw his grace come in a way that was unbelievable, that turned everything around from a place of total despair and hopelessness to one of a hope and a future.

I looked back on the last blog about the storms coming, and our foundations needing to be secure and I want to encourage you again today that if you fear the Lord, if you open your heart to him and his word and choose to stand on his word, you will not be disappointed.  You may not see through the place you are in at the moment, but the Lord is able to give you grace for the day which will enable you to stand and see the deliverance of your God.  But if we harden our hearts toward God, towards others, we will never see the deliverance that is at hand.

When a hardening of heart happens we need to ask ourselves and the Lord some questions and when we get the answers, we need to listen to them and do something about them.
Sometimes when we don't feel like praising God, then that is the very thing we need to do.  A sacrifice of praise because it truly is a sacrifice because it is the last thing we feel like doing, but when we do that our eyes are turned away from our situations and put back on God who is our deliver of that situation.  When we keep our eyes on those things that are causing pain, that is all you will ever see and you won't see the deliverance when it comes.

Trust me when I say, Jim & I don't have it all together and certainly teenagers show you your own areas that need a 'readjustment', and those hard hearts that can be put up because  you want your way as it says in James 4:1  What causes fights and quarrels among you?  Don't they come from your desires that battle within you?  You want something but don't get it.  You kill and covet, but you cannot have what you want.  You quarrel and fight."  And teenagers certainly test your hearts on some issues of authority, respect, honour etc. but I now see all of these as times of growth, or breakthrough, of shifting things that will bring an inheritance in our lives.  Once I would have seen it as failure as a Christian when I got it wrong in the Lord and I would have stayed in that place of condemnation but not any longer.  When we fall over in some area in our lives we also see God's grace there to pick us up and forgive us and say "Come on daughter, lets have another go at this"  You fell over in this area but my grace is sufficient, let's try again.  I do not stay in condemnation any longer because that is not God, but I do have a choice to make when conviction comes, to do something about it.

And so Lord  help us today to receive Grace from you and to give Grace to others.  Lord we can't do it, we need your help to come into our situation today.  Lord I open my heart to you today, show me the areas in my life that there are walls that need to come down and Lord help me to let them fall.  Lord forgive my pride, my selfishness, my need to be in control when you want to be in control and realise your ways are better than mine.   Lord help me to love those who hurt me, to forgive them and to see them how you see them.  Lord if there is someone I need to forgive today, please show me.  Lord if there is someone I need to ask forgiveness of Lord, help me to go to them and ask forgiveness for how I have hurt them because I can't do that in my own strength.  Lord thank you that you have forgiven us our sins so that we can forgive others theirs.  Thank you for your grace and your mercy, your love that covers a multitude of sin, your love that casts out all fear.  And Lord for those who don't know how much you love them today, please give them a revelation of that love for them today.  That they are the apple of your eye.  That you delight in them even when they don't feel that delight.  That nothing they could ever do will ever push you away from your love toward them.  That you love each one of us unconditionally!
Thank you Jesus.

I was looking for something else but stumbled upon this after writing the blog and thought this is a good word to add that would bring encouragement!  Psalm 112  "Praise the Lord.  Blessed is the man who fears the Lord, who finds great delight in his commands.  His children will be mighty in the land; the generation of the upright will be blessed.  Wealth and riches are in his house and his righteousness endures forever.  Even in darkness light dawns for the upright, for the gracious and compassionate and righeousess man.  Good will come to him who is generous and lends freely, who conducts his affairs with justice.  Surely he will never be shaken; a righteous man will be remembered forever.  He will have no fear of bad news, his heart is steadfast trusting in the Lord.  His heart is secure, he will have no fear; in the end he will look in triumph on his foes.  He has scattered abroad his gifts to the poor, his righteousness endures forever, his horn will be lifted high in honour.  The wicked man will see and be vexed. He will gnash his teeth and waste away; the longings of the wicked will come to nothing."

Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The storms are coming - will my foundations cope?

I have had several dreams lately in which either storms or things are coming at me and so it is easy to get fearful of what is to come which of course is not of the Lord because His plans for us are good.  But he does say in Proverbs that we will have many afflictions but the Lord delivers us from them all.  So although we will have trials, he is with us in it and will lead us through them.

I was reading this morning the story of the Wise and the Foolish builders and I was reminded that although the storms may and will come, I don't need to be concerned because my foundations are in him.
Matt 7:23  Therefore everyone who hears these words of mine and puts them into practice is like a wise man who built his house on the rock.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house; yet it did not fall, because it had its foundation on the rock.  But everyone who hears these words of mine and does not put them into practice is like a foolish man who built his house on sand.  The rain came down, the streams rose, and the winds blew and beat against that house, and it fell with a great crash."

The key in this scripture is putting into practise what we hear from the Lord.  If we don't put into practise those things that we are hearing from the Lord we are leaving ourselves vulnerable and when those storms come our foundations are weakened.

Yesterday I was looking at a scripture in James 2:14  What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works?  Can faith save him?  If a bother or sister is naked and destitute for daily food, and one of you says to them, “Depart in peace, be warmed and filled,” but you do not give them the things which are needed for the body, what does it profit?  Thus also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead.

So when reading the scripture from Matthew about putting into practise what you heard I was reminded about faith without action is dead.  Both are saying the same thing.  We need to do what we believe otherwise what we heard, what we believe, is actually of no value at all and it doesn't profit us or anyone else anything.

There are times in our lives when we are questioning what we are hearing from the Lord and until you get that clarity it is better to wait.  But in learning to hear and discern his voice and putting into practise what I believed I heard, there have been many times in my life that I have just stepped out in faith believing what I thought the Lord was saying and trusting in that and so my clarity and discernment of hearing his voice has grown.  And in the stepping out the Lord is able to direct our footsteps but when we don't step out he can't direct anything.  In stepping out you will either find a way through or a blockage and so you know.

Sometimes I don't need to ponder or question anything before doing it, simply because the word says what we need to do and so just do it.  For example Matt 5:42 "Give to the one who asks you and do not turn away from the one who wants to borrow from you." Easy, that's what his word says and so therefore that is what I need to do.  I don't need to question whether or not to give.  Other times we might get impressions, or whatever that we believe God is saying to do a certain thing but it is not written in the word specifically your situation.  Often if you believe you hear something, if it would be a good thing in the Lord and lines up with scripture, if it is out of your comfort box but would build his Kingdom on the earth, then it is probably from the Lord and in stepping out in those 'promptings' and then seeing his provision or his direction in something then we learn more to hear his voice.  If you are unsure it is always good to seek wise discerning christian counsel.

Faith is believing in what you cannot see and so stepping out in faith is a challenge but the more you put into practise what you believe in the Lord, what you believe in scripture and seeing God's answer and provision in those things, the more you know with a surety your foundations in the Lord are secure and the storms will not touch you.  God has been redoing our foundations and showing Jim and I all the weak areas that needed strengthening because his desire is that when those storms come we will be able to stand in him and be secure.

A scripture someone sent me this morning after I wrote this which fits in beautifully is Isaiah 33:5-6  "The Lord is exalted, for he dwells on high; he will fill Zion with justice and righteousness.  He will be the sure foundation for your times, a rich store of salvation and wisdom and knowledge; the fear of the Lord is the key to this treasure."

Sunday, 4 November 2012

Led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and returned by the Power of the Spirit

I loved what Toby was saying in church yesterday from Luke 4 but something that hit me was  in 4:1 Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, returned from the Jordan and was led by the Spirit in the desert.
And then later in 4:14  Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit, and news about him spread through the whole countryside.  (Be worth getting the message from Life Church if you haven't heard it)

Jesus was led into the desert by the Holy Spirit and he was led out in the Power of the Spirit.
In and out of the wilderness experience but still in all times in the Holy Spirit.

No matter where we are at in the Lord, whatever revelation I have or don't have yet is, whether moving in the power of the Spirit or led into the wilderness, we are all still in the Holy Spirit.
I find there tends to be superior spirituality within the body of Christ when terms such as "religious spirits" are bandied about.  We elevate one person over another because one has a 'religious spirit' but to me that is not love.  We step into pride thinking we have something more than someone else.  Love is lifting the other person above myself.

It is only by grace that I am where I am at, everything I have I was given by God, every bit of revelation I have is only because the Lord allowed my eyes to see the things I see.  I can't even have faith to believe without the faith first being given to me.  Apostle Paul is thankful for the thorn in the flesh because of the revelations he was receiving because it kept him in a place of humility and weakness before the Lord and before man.  As we are in a time where revelations are being poured out and understanding is coming, please be careful not to think you have more than someone else. Please be careful not to 'label' things because each person is his beloved and we are all in different places and walks with the Lord.  We are in a time where the Lord is bringing things to the surface and that is not to judge it and condemn, but to allow the Lord to heal things in people's lives and bring them into freedom in Him.   He brings to light the things hidden in the darkness for healing and wholeness to come and so when we see that happening with others lets be quick to love and support and help in whatever way and comfort that the Lord has given us that we can give others.

Love is covering someone else's nakedness and shame, not pointing it out and making it plain for all to see.

I look back on my life and the experiences I have had, every experience has added value to who I am now, every desert and wilderness time, every misunderstanding, every hurt, every judgement has all brought wisdom and understanding in my life, every lack of revelation and I am thankful for everything I have been through.  In those times it has brought me closer to God and who he is and the truth that sets me free when I choose to believe his word.  None of it was wrong, it was where I was at, at the time and I value it all.  I prayed for wisdom and that is how you get it, through the experiences you walk through in the Lord in the Holy Spirit and you come through it in the Power of the Holy Spirit.