The Lord is calling us to make Him our dwelling this year.
Psalm 91:1 (AMP)
He who dwells in the shelter of the Most High
Will remain secure and rest in the shadow of the Almighty [whose power no enemy can withstand].
The dwelling of the Lord is like a park pavilion in the middle of a raging thunderstorm. It’s dry and warm and safe. If so, then what could possibly lure us to go out into the storm? Why would we leave His protective covering?
This week, we’re continuing our message series on one thing that causes many of us to leave the dwelling of the Lord; offense.
It is one of the first things that God desires to deliver us from in this same Psalm.
Surely he will save you from the fowler’s (yāqôš – trapper, bait-layer) snare (paḥ – a trap, a snare, the source or agent of calamity).
We learned last week about the first step that is required for us to receive healing for our hurts; forgiveness. Until we choose to no longer take the bait of offense, we cannot begin the healing process. Once we have, we can turn to God; our Healer.
Although it is a common cliché, “forgive and forget” simply is not a reality. When we forgive, the sting of the hurt begins to lessen, but as we learned last week from Jesus, forgiving is not a one-time event. Whenever the offense is brought back to mind, we must choose each time to forgive. We will never forget as much as we may desperately long to.
I’ve heard this process likened to an old church bell hanging in a steeple. As soon as you let go of the rope, the intensity of the ringing begins to lessen and the frequency of rings begins to slow, but it does not instantly stop. It takes time for the bell to completely still itself and it that bell still remains even when it becomes silent.
If we choose to grab the rope and pull it again, the process begins all over. We must choose every time that the offense comes back to mind to forgive and refuse to grab that rope again. We must choose to allow the pain to fade away into our past.
It’s like holding on to a handful of broken glass. Every time that we choose to pick it back up and squeeze it, we become wounded all over again. For healing to begin, we must let go of that offense through forgiveness.
We will always remember it, but the sting and the pain will lessen as healing takes place. That’s what scars are; whether physical or emotional. They are a part of who we are and serve as reminders not to go back to that hurt again.
Jesus, sinless and perfect, suffered both physically and emotionally. He had every reason to be offended and to hold the offenders accountable. However, even from the cross, He forgave them. And even after He had rose again from the grave, He still had scars on His hands and side from those wounds (John 20).
The remembrance of death was still there, but the pain and sting was not. It had been swallowed up in victory! And today, your hurt can be swallowed up by that same victory!!!
1 Corinthians 15:54-58
54 When the perishable has been clothed with the imperishable, and the mortal with immortality, then the saying that is written will come true: “Death has been swallowed up in victory.”
55 “Where, O death, is your victory?
Where, O death, is your sting?”
56 The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. 57 But thanks be to God! He gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
58 Therefore, my dear brothers and sisters, stand firm. Let nothing move you. Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain.
Stand firm in the dwelling of the Lord! Do not allow offense and unforgiveness to lure you out from under it!
Healing from offense is much like healing from a pulled muscle or a joint replacement that requires physical therapy. The injury hurts and hurts bad! In fact, the more that you move it, the more that it hurts. However, if you don’t move it, it won’t heal correctly and will hinder you the whole rest of your life!
Hurt is a part of the healing process, but the more that you heal, the less that you hurt. The physical therapist is not inflicting the pain, they are simply stretching and exercising and massaging your injury so that it heals correctly and completely. The more that you allow them to do their work without resisting it, the quicker that the healing completes.
What we have a tendency to do when we hurt is to protect ourselves to stop the pain at all cost.
Proverbs 18:19 (TPT)
It is easier to conquer a strong city than to win back a friend whom you’ve offended. Their walls go up, making it nearly impossible to win them back.
Building up walls around our lives to insulate ourselves from offense does not heal our hurt. In fact, those walls prevent healing! That’s exactly what the devil wants us to do! Isolate ourselves and build up huge walls that keep everyone out.
Of course, the same walls that keep others out also keep the hurt in! Walls do not heal hurts! It’s just like last week if an innocent trapped animal gets its revenge on the person who trapped it. That animal will now remain trapped forever and their wounds will only worsen!
Refusing to follow a physical therapist’s instructions leaves us with permanent pain and stiffness and immobility. Following their instructions, though they may worsen hurt from our injury in the short term, results in long-term freedom from pain and complete mobility!
We need each other! Take down those walls!
Ecclesiastes 4:9-12 (NLT)
9 Two people are better off than one, for they can help each other succeed.
10 If one person falls, the other can reach out and help. But someone who falls alone is in real trouble.
11 Likewise, two people lying close together can keep each other warm. But how can one be warm alone?
12 A person standing alone can be attacked and defeated, but two can stand back-to-back and conquer.
Three are even better, for a triple-braided cord is not easily broken.
Find a support group of at least one other person who loves you enough to expose your offense and walk with you through the healing process. No, not someone who will help build up your walls and enforce your offense by agreeing with how wrong the offender was. This only furthers the offense and deepens the bitterness.
Don’t build up an army and defenses, build up your faith and freedom! Sure, your support group is going to have empathy toward your hurt and likely disagree with the offender. However, they are going to care more about getting you healed and freed from the trap of offense than scheming up ways of getting vengeance on the offender.
Like the physical therapist, it may feel like they are causing you more pain at first, but they are really just exposing the hurt and injury that is already there. When they tug on a root that hits the nerves of your heart, they are simply revealing what is already there. Allow Jesus to deliver and set you free from those roots of bitterness once and for all!
Take any offense or bitterness to Jesus together. He is our Healer and the Great Physician. He can take the sting out of the hurt and move you from hurt to healed and from victim to victor and set you free completely from the trap of offense!
Each and every time that the offense is brought back to mind, choose forgiveness. Refuse to pick it back up again and leave it in God’s hands. Healing often takes time, but Jesus can swallow up the sting of offense through His victory!
God’s people in Judah were facing an undesired war. Their enemies were gathering together and scheming against them determined to destroy them. They were outnumbered and defenseless on their own. They were forced to face a situation that they had no desire to be in.
As a result, all of the people came together and sought the Lord together. While they were gathered, the Spirit of the Lord came on a man named Jahaziel and he prophesied:
2 Chronicles 20:17 (NKJV/NIV)
You will not need to fight in this battle. Position yourselves, stand still and see the salvation of the LORD, who is with you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the LORD will be with you.
Not only did they go and face their enemies, but they were praising and singing on their way to face them.
This positioned themselves within the safe dwelling of the Lord even as they faced their enemies. This positioned them to be fearless and courageous instead of afraid and discouraged. This positioned them within the salvation of the Lord instead of outside of His covering. They were positioned in God’s dwelling even when physically marching straight into the face-to-face presence of their enemies planning to physically destroy them!
We ought to also position ourselves to dwell within Him! It is there alone that true and complete healing can take place.
How did God respond?
2 Chronicles 20:22-24
22 As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. 23 The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another. 24 When the men of Judah came to the place that overlooks the desert and looked toward the vast army, they saw only dead bodies lying on the ground; no one had escaped.
Vengeance is God’s. The more that we fight offense, the more that we hurt ourselves. That’s the snare of the enemy; the bait of Satan.
God’s people could have easily taken offense and cried out to God about how unfair their situation was and how they deserved better. Instead, they cried out to God for guidance. This is how this encounter all began:
2 Chronicles 20:10-12
10 “now here are men from Ammon, Moab and Mount Seir, whose territory you would not allow Israel to invade when they came from Egypt; so they turned away from them and did not destroy them. 11 See how they are repaying us by coming to drive us out of the possession you gave us as an inheritance. 12 Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.”
When we respond to the malicious intent and offense of others by focusing on the Lord, we leave it in His hands. The battle is His and the victory is ours!
When we recognize this truth and face our enemy with praise to the Lord instead of bitter defense of self, we leave the battle in His hands. We walk in freedom and the enemy gets caught in their own trap!
We remain unoffendable, undefeatable, free indeed! We stand firm and see the salvation of God with our own eyes; we become His witnesses!
We need to be like Moses, We need renewed hearts like Moses. Many times, people rose up against him. He had every reason and right to respond in offense, too!
Miriam and Aaron were upset that he married a Cushite woman. They said that Moses wasn’t anything special. After all, God spoke through them just as He did through Moses. Korah rose up in rebellion against him and convinced many of the leaders of Israel to do the same. Literally the entire nation whined and complained about and against him. Paul mentions a Jannes and Jambres opposing Moses and we don’t even know for sure how or who they were; perhaps Pharoh’s magicians?
Every time that this happened, the Lord executed judgment against those who opposed Moses. God opened the earth to swallow them, rained down fire, killed those eating quail, sent deadly plagues, and more.
Can you imagine being such a friend of God that He destroys anyone who opposes you? Can you imagine God avenging your hurt? How did Moses respond, though?
Moses would call out on the Lord to relent and to forgive them! Moses could have been offended by their opposition and been right even before the Lord. However, Moses had an attribute that enabled him to walk in this life offenseless!
Numbers 12:3 NLT
Now Moses was very humble – more humble than any other person on earth.
Moses was unoffendable because of his humility. He knew the sin that he was guilty of and what he deserved to receive from God. However, God gave Moses forgiveness and grace and mercy and kindness and promotion into leadership instead.
What Moses received from God, he extended to all others understanding that he deserved God’s judgment and wrath just as much as those who opposed him were receiving.
When we truly understand the cost of our sin and how offensive it rightfully is to God, then how can we ever withhold forgiveness toward others and be offended when they sin against us?
Today can be the day of our freedom! Today can be the day when our healing begins! All that we have to do is:
- Forgive (Again & Again)
- Build Support (Godly Friends)
- Position Ourselves (Within His Dwelling)
- Stay Humble (We Deserve Hell)