God's Gift from His Heart

“Are you tired? Worn out? Burned out on religion? Come to me.  Get away with me and you’ll recover your life. I’ll show you how to take a real rest.  Walk with me and work with me – watch how I do it.  Learn the unforced rhythms of grace.  I won’t lay anything heavy or ill-fitting on you.  Keep company with me and you’ll learn to live freely and lightly.” (Matthew 11:28-30 MSG)
Grace is a Gift from God and it is nothing else.  Our salvation is a part of that grace.  When we try to make God’s gift into something that it is not, we are forcing a square into a round peg – possible, but very difficult.  If we try to make grace into something other than a gift, we are trying to work for our salvation.  It turns salvation into slave-ation.
Humans are constantly trying to force nature to obey us.  We pave roads and parking lots; we build cities and towns.  But if we stop working to keep things the way that we want them, nature takes over.  Houses crumble, parking lots become grass fields as trees break up through cracks in the concrete. 
God’s grace is like this.  If we don’t try to force religion upon ourselves – but just walk and talk with God, building a relationship with Him, naturally – then we learn what UNFORCED grace is.  We can accept God’s gift at face value and understand that there are “no strings attached.”  God’s gift is Himself, and it is grace that allows this relationship to happen without being forced.

Sensitive? Get over it!

Great peace have they who love your law; nothing shall offend them or make them stumble.  (Psalm 119:165 AMP)
The day before Halloween this year, some of the punk kids in the neighborhood thought it would be funny to redecorate our church with spray cans.  They painted the handicapped signs, other church signs, and the area around the dumpster as well as the back doors of the sanctuary.  They wrote things that were juvenile, and would easily offend the delicate sensitivities of those with high moral value.
But, my question is: Are Christians supposed to have delicate sensitivities?  In movies and TV, the person displayed as the most easily offended at parties and in workplaces seems to be the Christian.  How much truth is there to that?  Too much.  I remember once that someone at my church was “offended” that people weren’t cutting the grass often enough because dandelions showed up on Sunday mornings to greet the parishioners.  What causes church split ups except that one group becomes offended by the other’s song choice, dress, seating arrangement, or when communion is taken?
If Christians were not so easily offended would the punk neighborhood kids have found it so fun to poke at their sensitivities?  If instead they could expect the church to forgive them and believe the best for them wouldn’t it take away their fun?
And then many will be offended and repelled and will begin to distrust and desert Him whom they ought to trust and obey and will stumble and fall away and betray one another and pursue another with hatred. (Matthew 24:11 AMP)
Because one person in the church becomes so easily offended, they turn their back on the church then they turn their back on Jesus.  These are the last days.  We’re living in them.  Because so many in the church don’t read the Bible for themselves, we don’t know and love God’s law, so we become easily offended.  
How do we become offended?
Synonyms for Offended are: Insulted, snubbed, affronted.  One definition of offend is: to break a commonly accepted rule or principle, causing insult, upset, annoyance, or resent.  And there we have the problem.  When we come to God we are to dispel all our pre-conceived notions of what is commonly accepted and believe the best of everyone.  This is Love:
Love bears up under anything and everything that comes, is ever ready to believe the best of every person, its hopes are fadeless under all circumstances, and it endures everything without weakening. (1 Corinthians 13:7 AMP)
If we truly believe the best and endure without weakening in all circumstances, then we would become hard to offend.  So let us not let Satan have this foothold in our lives.  Today we live in a society where being offended rewards you not with a “get over it,” but instead with an accusation of intolerance on the offending party whether they had malicious intent or not.  But I’m here today to tell you to “get over it.” And be willing to take on the offense of another and bear it up.  As Christians, our first calling is to love and in order to do that, we have to endure whatever insult comes our way and believe the best of the one who insulted us.