Fresh Manna© by Pastor Tim Burt
Acts 24:16 “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men”
I read a story in the newspaper that said this: “Sixteen years after a jury called him a killer and a judge sentenced him to prison, a former Tustin Marine corporal stood in a Santa Ana courtroom Thursday and wept as he was declared a free and innocent man. Apologizing for a justice system’s grave error, Orange County Superior Court Judge Robert Fitzgerald told 38-year-old Kevin Lee Green that he hoped the second half of his life would somehow make up for the lost time.”
Another story reported this: “The day he was wrongly convicted of rape, Calvin Johnson Jr. stood firm and told the judge, “As God is my witness, you’ve got the wrong man.” He served 16 years of a life sentence, believing one day he’d be exonerated. Johnson was freed Tuesday after DNA evidence proved he could not have committed the crime. “I don’t see any reason to harbor any bitterness,” Johnson said as he left the Clayton County courthouse with his father and two sisters. “If you hold something like that inside you, it just destroys you. Now it’s time for me to go on with my life.”
These real life stories remind us of the story we know of Joseph and the wrongful accusations against him by a woman that lusted after him and then falsely accused him. It resulted in his sitting in prison for many years. Like the men in the newspaper articles, Joseph kept his heart right and the Lord was able to work in His life and bring him out. Jesus was also falsely accused over and over again. It was false accusation that led to His walk to Calvary to die for our sins.
Prov 6:19 says that something God hates is this: “… a false witness who pours out lies and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.” I will give you a simple example of this. When I’ve had people in my office for counseling, a majority are there because of getting offended at someone else. “So and so said this; so and so did that.” “This is going on in my life and it’s so and so’s fault!” The truth is, for every person’s story of being hurt; there is another side and another perspective. People hurt each other and don’t work through it. Most people are horrible at working through conflict. Even though the Bible instructs us to go back to those that “we have ought with,” very few do. Most hold it inside and let it turn to bitterness and deep hurt. Then most go around painting verbal pictures of “what so and so did.” When this happens, that person could be acting as a false witness or shedding innocent blood. They could be getting someone in trouble or decreasing their good name by the words of hurt that they speak against the one they were hurt by. People do this! They want to justify themselves at someone’s expense.
We want to make sure we are not unawarely giving place to this in our lives. It will harden our heart in unforgiveness and bitterness. When this happens, we shut out God’s presence and the power that is available to help and heal us. We become callous and insensitive to the presence, leadings and promptings of God’s Spirit. Staying sensitive to God and His presence in our lives is no insignificant matter. Therefore we have to put away the things that harden our hearts – the things that God hates.
I don’t know of any greater weakness overall in the body of Christ than the ignorance of or unwillingness to work through relational conflict. In the story of Joseph, his brothers were just plain mean and jealous. There won’t be any great relational resolution with people that are wicked, hard, or mean. But, in the body of Christ, that should not be so.
We have a church of ten thousand people. Needless to say, I am busy on the weekends. I am a very smiley person by nature but, sometimes in church, when I am helping someone or taking care of a situation, I’m on a mission. On at least thee occasions over the 25 years at church, I’ve had people say to me, “Pastor, you are mad at me aren’t you?” Being shocked to hear that I asked them why in the world they’d think such a thing. “Because you walked by me without smiling or saying hi.” “When did I do that?” “Two years ago.” I was always shocked but apologetic. I assured them I wasn’t mad at them and most likely didn’t even notice them as I was helping someone else.
The question is this, are they now going to be able to go back and tell all those people over the past two years that they had told I was rude to them that it was a misunderstanding based on their wrong perspective? I don’t think so. We all do this. Shedding innocent blood doesn’t have to mean murder. It can be damaging someone’s name or reputation because of a hurtful perspective that could be resolved if we acted as Christians, simply confronted it, and tried to work it out. It is the God thing to do.
When we tear people down the Holy Spirit is trying to get us to stop. We can sense it if we are sensitive to Him. If getting offended and talking to others about it is the norm, we’ll be used to overriding God’s still small voice. We then harden our heart and lose our ability to sense the presence that brings, power, life, direction, healing, miracles, His love and the anointing to minister to others. The thought of being cut off from all that God has for me gives me the chills.
Today’s Fresh Manna says that Paul did what we must to – refuse to remain offended. “And herein do I exercise myself, to have always a conscience void of offence toward God, and toward men.”
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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