Posted on 05/03/2009 by Rev. Benjamin R. Faust D.D.
TRANSCRIPT: (does not contain everything found in the audio above)
*** listen to the audio for introduction and prayer ***
Public Prayer Requests:
Please pray for Josh and Michelle, who have made this request:
"Our lives were turned upside down yesterday after taking our precious little angel Garrett to the doctor for what we thought was a little infection in his finger and because we thought maybe he had a virus. The doctors told us they wanted to check his blood. I mentioned to them that although he had no other signs, I'd like for them to check him for anemia since he seems to bruise easily.
The doctors came back to give us the diagnosis and immediately took Garrett from the room. They informed us that Garrett was very highly anemic and that our sweet sweet baby appeared to have leukemia. All of his counts were very low so they called for a CBC to be taken to the hospital and we'd have the results in an hour. The diagnosis is Acute Lymphoblastic Leukemia (ALL)."
kindly pray for me to find a true Christian wife. I have been devorced from my wife for almost six years now (before I gave my life to Christ). I truly need a loving woman. I have prayed and fasted about it and trust that God sent me to this site for a special blessing. I am 52 years old
–Lucky Mwango Chishiki
Please turn around and click one of the offering plates by the doors, and give as the Lord leads.
I LOVE TO BE IN YOUR PRESENCE
I love to be in Your presence
With Your people singing praises
I love to stand and rejoice
Lift my hands and raise my voice
You set my feet to dancing
You fill my heart with song
You give me reason to rejoice
BLESS THE LORD
I will bless the Lord at all times
I will bless the Lord at all times
His praise shall continually
be in my mouth
I LOVE YOU LORD
I love you, Lord
And I lift my voice
To worship You
Oh, my soul rejoice!
Take joy my King
In what You hear
Let it be a sweet, sweet sound in Your ear
*** listen to the audio for the message introduction ***
When you're ready, you can be seated.
The Psalmist wrote, "I will bless the Lord at all times. His praise shall continually be in my mouth." He didn't say "His praise shall be in my mouth during song service," or even "His praise shall be in my mouth during church;" but he said, "His praise shall CONTINUALLY be in my mouth," and "I will bless the Lord..." when? "I will bless the Lord at ALL times."
It's easy, when the songs are over and we open the Word of God, to feel as though worship has ended. But my prayer today is that we make the choice that worship has only begun.
So let us worship him by attuning our ears to hear what he wants to speak to us today, as we worship him by sitting at his feet and seeking to know a little more of his heart.
The title of today's message is "Taking Offense."
How many of you know today that the world is full of offence.
Some people are offended because they think they're being discriminated against.
Some people are offended because they feel as though someone is judging them.
Some people are offended because they are not allowed to do everything they want exactly how they want to.
Some people are offended because not everyone has the same doctrinal viewpoints they do.
Some people are offended because of the Word of God, and because others insist it's all completely true.
It's become very "uncool" to offend anyone. If you do, you're likely to be labeled hateful, bigoted, and extreme.
But this is nothing new. In 2nd Timothy chapter 4, Paul writes about this. Let's read this together. 2nd Timothy 4, verses 1 through 4:
2 Timothy 4:1-4
1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:
2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;
4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.
Is this happening today? You'd better believe it! The NIV translates those words "convince, rebuke, and exhort" as "correct, rebuke, and encourage." What's popular and accepted today? Only the last one, "encourage."
Too many people look for and listen to only those who encourage them; sometimes they even look for those who encourage their sin. But if someone were to correct them, and God forbid, if someone were to rebuke them, they're immediately offended.
This is an age of offense. This is an age in which many people do not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, the way they want to believe, the way they want to live; according to those, they heap up for themselves teachers who will satisfy their itching ears.
Itching ears? Yes, ears that itch to be praised; ears that itch to be affirmed; ears that itch to hear that their beloved sins are okay.
And what's the result? Verse four says "they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables."
And there are teachers and preachers out there who will tell you any fable you long to believe.
Do you want to believe it's okay to cheat on your taxes? You can find someone to tell you it's okay.
Do you want to think it's no big deal to cheat on your spouse? You can find someone to tell you we're only human and God doesn't really mind.
Do you want to think it's good and natural to live a homosexual lifestyle? You can find someone to even preach from the pulpit that God not only doesn't forbid it, but it's somehow good, and it's the way God created you to live.
We could keep going down an endless list, but you get the idea. If you're a teacher or a preacher or a layman and you want to be accepted in the mainstream, you may just need to pay close attention to what the itching ears of your listeners are longing to hear.
That's just part of the spirit of this age. And it's portrayed quite well in the story of Pinocchio. If you're familiar with this story, you'll remember the place Pinocchio and other little boys were enticed to visit. The great temptation was that there were no rules. They could do whatever they wanted to do. They simply did not know the price they would have to pay.
Satan would like for us to believe such a place exists, a place in which the only rules are the ones we feel are right, and anything we want to do or believe is right, we should be able to do without anyone judging us or telling us it's wrong. But we simply do not know the price we will have to pay.
You see, God and the enemy do things differently. The enemy does things that appeal to our flesh and make us feel good, while God does things that appeal to our spirit man and are good for us.
The way of the enemy, which is the way of the world, would be to tell a kid they spelled the word correctly when they only missed a letter or two, for fear of making them feel badly, while the way of the Kingdom would be to tell the kid they misspelled the word so they can make the mental corrections and do better next time.
The former gives approval based upon entitlement and deceit, while the latter gives approval based upon hard work and truth.
The former builds a false self-image, while the latter builds character.
And it is the same in the church. I could get up here and tell you that you can lie a little, cheat a little, fornicate a little, and practice homosexuality a little, and some people would be quite pleased. But I'd be helping to build in you a false self-image, and more importantly, a false image of God, rather than pointing you in the way of righteousness and true character and integrity. It's the difference between pointing you closer to or farther away from God. Not just some feeling of closeness, but closeness both in spirit and in truth.
Jesus didn't mind offending people. In fact, he did it better than anyone.
How many times do we see Jesus say something, and people got offended. He offended the religious leaders. He offended the teachers of the law. He even offended those who followed him. And the reason was simple: he told the truth.
You cannot tell the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth without offending someone. Just keep speaking the truth, even in love. Eventually someone will get offended, and will accuse you of being hateful, bigotted, and extreme.
Some will even get offended because the truth is coming through YOU.
Take for example the leaders at the temple, who were questioning the man whose eyes Jesus healed.
Let's read this from John chapter 9, starting with verse 1. John chapter 9, verse 1:
John 9:1-7, 13-17, 24-34
1 Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth.
2 And His disciples asked Him, saying, "Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?"
3 Jesus answered, "Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him.
4 I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.
5 As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
6 When He had said these things, He spat on the ground and made clay with the saliva; and He anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay.
7 And He said to him, "Go, wash in the pool of Siloam" (which is translated, Sent). So he went and washed, and came back seeing.
13 They brought him who formerly was blind to the Pharisees.
14 Now it was a Sabbath when Jesus made the clay and opened his eyes.
15 Then the Pharisees also asked him again how he had received his sight. He said to them, "He put clay on my eyes, and I washed, and I see."
16 Therefore some of the Pharisees said, "This Man is not from God, because He does not keep the Sabbath." Others said, "How can a man who is a sinner do such signs?" And there was a division among them.
Let's stop right there for a second... The politically-correct Jesus brings unity and peace. But Jesus offended people, and, as we see here, he divided the people.
17 They said to the blind man again, "What do you say about Him because He opened your eyes?" He said, "He is a prophet."
24 So they again called the man who was blind, and said to him, "Give God the glory! We know that this Man is a sinner."
25 He answered and said, "Whether He is a sinner or not I do not know. One thing I know: that though I was blind, now I see."
26 Then they said to him again, "What did He do to you? How did He open your eyes?"
27 He answered them, "I told you already, and you did not listen. Why do you want to hear it again? Do you also want to become His disciples?"
28 Then they reviled him and said, "You are His disciple, but we are Moses' disciples.
29 We know that God spoke to Moses; as for this fellow, we do not know where He is from."
30 The man answered and said to them, "Why, this is a marvelous thing, that you do not know where He is from; yet He has opened my eyes!
31 Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.
32 Since the world began it has been unheard of that anyone opened the eyes of one who was born blind.
33 If this Man were not from God, He could do nothing."
34 They answered and said to him, "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?" And they cast him out.
Now, it's interesting to note that they didn't have a come-back for what the man said. They didn't dispute the truth of his premise.
They didn't reject what he said; rather, they rejected the vessel. Of course we know they ultimate rejected both the speaker and his message, but the point I'd like us to consider here today is their statement, "You were completely born in sins, and are you teaching us?"
Surely God couldn't speak through someone who they believed was born in sins.
How often do we reject what God is telling us because he chooses a vessel that offends us?
Maybe he speaks to us through the drunk on the park bench, but because he's a drunk, we miss what God is trying to tell us.
Maybe he speaks to us through a child, but because we think children don't really know anything, we miss what God is trying to tell us.
Maybe he speaks to us through a T.V. evengelist, but because we think they're wearing too much jewelry or yelling too loudly, we miss what God is trying to tell us.
Maybe he speaks to us through a woman, but because she's not a man, we miss what God is trying to tell us.
Let's consider Deborah, an Old Testament prophetess, who became a judge of Israel, passing judgment on both women and men.
Or how about Jael, who was a living indictment to the weakness of Barak and other men in Israel.
Even in the writings of Paul, we discover that it is permissible for women to have leadership roles in the church.
Paul noted women as co-workers in Philippians 4:3 and Romans 16:6 and 12; as deacons in Romans 16:1 and 2; as apostles in Romans 16:7; as official delegates in Romans 16:1 and 2; as prophetesses and prayer warriors in 1st Corinthians 11:5; and as leaders of house churches in 1st Corinthians 16:19.
Perhaps some of you have refused to hear what God wanted to say to you because he chose to speak through a woman.
Regardless of what vessel you find offensive, God is not interested in changing the way he does things so he doesn't offend you; rather, he's interested in changing you so you can hear his voice no matter where, when, or how he chooses to speak.
Unless you're perfect, there will be times in your life that you are offended by God. I know I have been. And I realized later that I was the one at fault.
Love. We know that God is love. And we hear this word used a lot when dealing with offense. "God is love, so he's not going to condemn me because of my lifestyle."
But God would be withholding his love if he withheld from us that which might offend us or cause us pain.
Proverbs 3:11-12 says this:
11 My son, do not despise the chastening of the LORD, nor detest His correction;
12 For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.
How many people today despise chastening? How many detest correction? How many say that chastening and correction are judgment, bigotry, or hate?
And yet, true hatred is withholding correction when it is needed to keep us on the path of life.
Satan's brand of love, acceptance, and affirmation, is really hatred in disguize. He know that a lifestyle of sin will separate us from God, destroy our souls, and ultimately condemn us to eternity in hell. And so he makes us feel good about our sins. He makes us feel justified in our fleshly, carnal natures. And he delights when we are offended by the truth, the truth that has the power to set us free.
To tell you the truth, I find myself offended quite a lot.
I'm offended by the lies that we can live however we wish and still be right with God.
I'm offended by the accusations that what the Bible clearly teaches is bigotry and hatred.
I'm offended by churches who don't have a doctrinal statement because they think it might exclude someone, and instead embrace all sorts of ungodliness, perversion, new age misticism, and paganism, all in the name of God.
I'm offended by the false love promoted by those who tickle itching ears.
I'm offended by the politically-correct and spiritually dead pulpits from which come encouragement without correction and reproof.
I'm offended by the insistance that we NOT be like Jesus who told the offensive truth, and instead try to be pleasers of man, rather than pleasers of God.
I find these things highly offensive. And I hope you do too.
You see, we need to be offended by the right things.
Do we become more offended by hearing God's name taken in vain, or by hearing someone tell us to repent and get the sin out of our own lives?
Do we become more offended by having millions of babies legally murdered, or by those who speak out boldly that abortion is an abomination that needs to be removed from our land?
Do we become more offended by seeing practicing homosexuals behind the pulpit, or by hearing people say that's just plain wrong?
We need to ask ourselves: What offends me? And why? And are my offenses in line with Scripture, or are they caused by some of the truths found within the Word of God?
It all boils down to the Gospel of Christ. The Good News that we can be forgiven for our sins, and set free from them to walk in a brand new life, free from sin, and slaves to righteousness. We're not called to proclaim this message by embracing the ideas and ways of this world. Rather, we are called to preach the Gospel just as God has given it to us. And any politically-correct or watered-down presentation of the Gospel should offend us.
1 Corinthians 1:18-25 says this:
18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God.
19 For it is written: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and bring to nothing the understanding of the prudent."
20 Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the disputer of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of this world?
21 For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe.
22 For Jews request a sign, and Greeks seek after wisdom;
23 but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jews a stumbling block and to the Greeks foolishness,
24 but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.
25 Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men.
What offends you?
The ministry team can come stand at the front now.
And I'd like to open this altar for a time of prayer and ministry. And you're invited to get out of your seat and come gather at the altar.
Have you found yourself offended by the wrong things? Then it's time to surrender your offenses into the hand of the master, as you surrender yourself to the hand of the potter, and ask him to water you, shape you, and break you if need be, so you can be changed into his image.
If this is you, you're also invited to get out of your seat and come to this altar, saying by your actions, "Lord, I've been offended by the wrong things, and I'm asking you to change me! Cause me to think with your mind, the mind of the Spirit, instead of the mind of my flesh."
If you need to go, you're free to do so. If you would like someone to pray or speak with you, please instant message someone on the ministry team. If you can stay, your all invited to join us in the fellowship room to your left after this time at the altar.
And if you don't know Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior, today is your day to come home. Jesus is calling to you, saying, "Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone will hear my voice and open the door to me, I will come into him and feast with him."
Just call out to him right now, "Jesus, come into my heart; forgive me for my sins, and make me a brand new creation. Fill me with your Holy Spirit, and I will follow you all the days of my life."
Come to this altar, and let's offend the gates of hell by surrendering everything we are to the Master! Come.