Posts Tagged ‘slow to anger’

Pulling On God’s Heart

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people… If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chron 7:13-15).

Ministry Breakthrough:

Our Lord Jesus said fasting would be necessary for His disciples when He was no longer with them in person. “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast” (Mt 9:15). Notice Jesus is giving the impression that the disciples would need to fast in order to pull information out of the spiritual realm after He was gone.

The early disciples remembered the words of Jesus and made fasting a vital part of their spiritual lives, especially when breakthrough was needed. The outstanding work God accomplished through them speaks for itself. They could easily hear God speak to them through prayer and fasting and so their activities in ministry were more effective.

Just imagine the scene as those disciples were worshiping and fasting. The Holy Spirit spoke with amazing clarity. “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them“. So after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them into ministry (Acts 13:2-3).

Personal Breakthrough:

We must recognize the value of fasting and prayer, as we consider our own heart toward God. Many times in my life, I have seen wilderness experiences turned into opportunities for promotion, simply because of fasting. Turning sorrows into joy and mourning into dancing, must not be left to chance or opportune times. We must move into our responsibility as stewards of our spiritual destinies, because we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Prayer and fasting will separate us from spiritual laziness, where we stop expecting God to bring success and lay it at our feet. Jesus told His disciples that when they prayed and fasted, God would reward them publicly… openly (Mt 6:18). I have watched God move with Kingdom resources when I gave myself to fasting.

“Even now, declares the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and He relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13).

Offenses

Jesus said, “Woe to the world because of offenses! For offenses must come, but woe to that man by whom the offense comes!” (Mt. 18:7)

Three Realities About Offenses:

1. Offenses are Inevitable:

According to the dictionary, “woe” means, “grievous distress, affliction, or trouble”. Anyone who has been offended understands woe. And from my experience; I can tell you, it will not get easier with age! But as Jesus points out, offenses must come. People offend each other; by what they do and say - or don’t say, and most of the time they do not even realize it. Either way, life affords us daily opportunities to be offended. What surprises me is the reality Jesus points out, “offenses must come”.

To understand this we must first recognize what an offense is. The word “offense” actually comes from the same root word as the word “scandal”. A scandal is stirred up by the belief that some hidden motive is behind an unexplained event, and an offense is often the same thing. It requires us to believe or imagine something (that may or may not be true), simply based on a tone of voice or an attitude in someones actions. Note that while offenses may be inevitable, Jesus does not let the offender off the hook anymore than the offended. Both are accountable and will experience their own level of woe.

2. Offenses Reveal Issues:

This is a hard reality to embrace. Yet, in the midst of an offense, lays a bit of reality that might need attention. I find it difficult to believe any good could come from the feelings that emerge from being offended, but just like any painful feeling… there is a source, a hurt or some forgotten baggage. God might have a bigger purpose in mind. Consider the following two examples from the Bible, Joseph and David.

Consider how Joseph was ridiculed, kidnapped and sold into slavery by his own brothers. He was later falsely accused of trying to seduce the wife of a high-ranking, Egyptian official. He spent several years in prison and it was quite a while before he was vindicated. He could have been very angry with his brothers. Years later; when he is in a position of power and could easily have had his revenge, they are now face to face. Joseph had learned something and said to them, “Do not be afraid, for am I in the place of God? But as for you, you meant evil against me; but God meant it for good, in order to bring it about as it is this day, to save many people alive. Now therefore, do not be afraid; I will provide for you and your little ones.” (Gen. 50:19–20)

Consider King David, in the latter part of his life, was chased out of Jerusalem by his treasonous son, Absalom. If that weren’t bad enough, a character named Shimei meets him on the road and starts throwing rocks at him. He curses David and reminds him of all his sins. He says, “Come out! Come out! You bloodthirsty man, you rogue! The Lord has brought upon you all the blood of the house of Saul, in whose place you have reigned; and the Lord has delivered the kingdom into the hand of Absalom your son. So now you are caught in your own evil, because you are a bloodthirsty man!” (2 Sam. 16:7-8). Abishai, one of King David’s servants, said, “Why should this dead dog curse my lord the king? Please, let me go over and take off his head!” But David responded: “Let him alone, and let him curse… It may be that the Lord will look on my affliction, and that the Lord will repay me with good for his cursing this day.” (2 Sam. 16:11-12).

It’s easy to resent those who offend us. But what if God has a deep and important purpose for sending them… something that He intends for our good, because He truly loves us (Rom. 8:28). The offense never feels good at the time, but God has a plan beyond the wound… beyond us and our feelings.

3. Staying Offended is a Choice:

Every leader should memorize this verse: “The discretion of a man makes him slow to anger, and his glory is to overlook a transgression.” (Prov. 19:11)

There are certainly times when it is legitimate to be angry. The Apostle Paul says, “Be angry, and do not sin” (Eph. 4:26). Anger can be a valid response to something that is wrong. But it can quickly become toxic; not only for those to whom we direct it, but also for ourselves. This is why the Apostle James admonishes us to be “slow to anger” (Jas. 1:19-20).

Between the offense and the response is the power of choice. This is what God put in us when He created us in His image, likeness and gave us dominion of the Garden of Eden. What makes us unique in the universe is our human will. We don’t have to respond; in fact, we do not even have to “hear” the offense - by choosing to ignore its invitation to let it stir our emotions. How many times have you ignored the phone when its a sales call or changed the tone of your voice in an instance depending upon who you are talking with. This is the reality of choice.

Choices are made by our ability to evaluate how our responses will benefit us at the moment. Those benefits are keys that unlock our understanding of authority and power. He who holds our heart, will rule our choices. The greatest leaders I know are not easily offended. Instead, they practice the habit of overlooking offenses.

Great leaders take the high road, give the offender the benefit of the doubt, and move on with the benefit of peace.

It requires character and a certain amount of skill in listening to what people say, rather than how they say it. I remind myself that offense will come, but I also recognize my choice is to find my identity in God’s pleasure rather than the approval of others or personal glory. I think that this is what the Apostle Paul meant by choosing rather to “glory in the cross” than look for personal justification (Gal. 6:14). A mutual crucifixion has occurred between myself and the world, I am dead to it and it is dead to me… which means I must not allow it to move me emotionally.

My freedom to reach God’s destiny is hinged to my ability to stay free from offenses!

21 Days of Fasting

January 1-21 2012. Join RevivalHut Ministries for 21 days of Prayer and Fasting; Seeking God for breakthrough in the Nations!

Prayer and Fasting is probably the greatest avenue to awaken our sensitivity to the Holy Spirit. God is always speaking to us as a nation, a ministry and as a people. The key to listening is sensitivity. Only those effectively hearing God are effectively responding to Him.

National Breakthrough:

When breakthroughs are needed, we should fast and pray! God is watching and listening. He makes Himself vulnerable to the hungry heart by leaning in to the seeker and responding quickly to the ministry of prayer. I am convinced that nothing so captures His attention as a group of tenacious intercessors pleading at the Throne of God for breakthrough in the nations.

“When I shut up the heavens so that there is no rain, or command locusts to devour the land or send a plague among My people… If My people, who are called by My name, will humble themselves and pray and seek My face and turn from their wicked ways, then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land. Now My eyes will be open and My ears attentive to the prayers offered in this place.” (2 Chron 7:13-15).

Ministry Breakthrough:

Our Lord Jesus said fasting would be necessary for His disciples when He was no longer with them in person. “The time will come when the bridegroom will be taken from them; then they will fast” (Mt 9:15). Notice Jesus is giving the impression that the disciples would need to fast in order to pull information out of the spiritual realm after He was gone.

The early disciples remembered the words of Jesus and made fasting a vital part of their spiritual lives, especially when breakthrough was needed. The outstanding work God accomplished through them speaks for itself. They could easily hear God speak to them through prayer and fasting and so their activities in ministry were more effective.

Just imagine the scene as those disciples were worshipping and fasting. The Holy Spirit spoke with amazing clarity. “Set apart for Me Barnabas and Saul for the work to which I have called them“. So after they fasted and prayed, they placed their hands on them and sent them into ministry (Acts 13:2-3).

Personal Breakthrough:

We must recognize the value of fasting and prayer, as we consider our own heart toward God. Many times in my life, I have seen wilderness experiences turned into opportunities for promotion, simply because of fasting. Turning sorrows into joy and mourning into dancing, must not be left to chance or opportune times. We must move into our responsibility as stewards of our spiritual destinies, because we are the Temple of the Holy Spirit. Prayer and fasting will separate us from spiritual laziness, where we stop expecting God to bring success and lay it at our feet. Jesus told His disciples that when they prayed and fasted, God would reward them publicly… openly (Mt 6:18). I have watched God move with Kingdom resources when I gave myself to fasting.

“Even now, declares the Lord, return to Me with all your heart, with fasting and weeping and mourning. Rend your heart and not your garments. Return to the Lord your God, for He is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and He relents from sending calamity” (Joel 2:12-13).

Spiritual Turbulance

Many Christians regard being in conflict as sin. It is not seen as a normal part of the Christian life. Yet Jesus has taught us, at some length, how to manage conflict and the book of Proverbs has whole sections on the topic.

Conflict is inevitable for three reasons:

  1. Because our knowledge is incomplete and imperfect. Every person, even in a perfect world will see the same situation differently… through their own knowledge and perspectives. 
  2. Satan engineers conflict whenever and wherever possible, especially among Christians. Satan sets us in conflict with ourselves, God and one another. 
  3. We initiate conflict with evil whenever we proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom, because it is in direct opposition to all other kingdoms of this world.

When we take a stand against sin in our society, teach against cults or testify to Christ in the midst of a world that does not want to change, then we are stirring up the spiritual atmosphere, where Satan has staked a claim.

No my friend, conflict is here to stay and we must learn to manage it in an authentic and “Kingdom” way.

 Until Christ returns, we will have trouble with those who oppose the Truth (Jn 16:33).

Something I try to do, in the midst of conflict, is to avoid angry and easily disturbed people. Believe me when I say- “moral character matters when people are involved in conflict.” We can only rely on honest and humble communication in the peacemaking process.

I have great respect for Solomon’s wisdom here… he said: “An angry man stirs up strife and a furious man abounds in transgressions” (Prov 29:22) & “A wrathful man stirs up strife, but he who is slow to anger allays (reduces) contention” (Prov 15:18). We are often surprised by how anger and pain mask themselves in the midst of relationships… some folks are seathing just below the surface. While their face carries a smile, their hearts carry issues of unforgiveness, gossip and devisive behavior.

Prosperity follows those who trust in the Lord’s ability to handle strife and conflict. Remember – God gives wisdom liberally (lavishly & abundantly), when we ask Him (Jms 1:5).

The key to resolving strife and conflict is to wait upon the Lord.

 If we can humbly wait upon the Lord; in due season, He will lift us up. Until then we are called to come under… to submit one to another and forsake foolish arguments over things that will always hold a bit of mystery.

Archives