Last time we looked at Christ as the Cornerstone and how we can found ourselves on Him and His principles. Today, we look at Christ as the stumbling rock of offense and what that means. Before we get into that, I wanted to share some more titles of Christ for you to call on during these troubling days:
Isn't it great to know that we have a God that is all of these things and more to us in this time and every other season of our lives? We are blessed to know the One True Living God. We are blessed to know His Name, Jesus. We are blessed to be His.
However, while so much about Jesus has a noticeably positive impact on our lives, others are not so easy to see as outwardly helpful. One that is most notable is that Christ is a rock of offense or a stumbling block. That doesn't sound positive or uplifting, but it is as important as all of these other titles and the one we focused on last time.
Rock of Offense
Christ is mentioned as a rock of offense or regards offense or stumbling in Isaiah 8:14, Matthew 11:6, Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:3, Romans 9:32, 1 Corinthians 1:22-24 and 1 Peter 2:8. A rock of offense is a stumbling block. It's something that stubs your toe, causes you to lose balance and creates frustration in the path of your choosing. It's hard for many to see Jesus in this light, but the references given reveal the true nature of this identity and it's purpose for our lives.
In Isaiah 8:14, God starts off with a desire to be our sanctuary, or safe place. However, He also acknowledges the reality of the human condition. So many say they want the provision, blessing and safety of God; but when he shows up we turn away. His Word offends us and trips up our lives because we don't truly line up with what His Word teaches. The only way to remedy this is to embrace God's Word as our guide so it might be a foundation under our feet rather than a stumbling block to our path. We must decide. Are we a part of God and His Kingdom? Or are we a part of the world and our kingdom?
In Matthew 13:57 and Mark 6:3, people from Jesus' home region rejected him and found offense that He could be something special. It shows that knowing about God is not enough. We must know Him. Only a relationship with Christ will lead to following Him and His Word in everything we do. If we choose relationship-true relationship-with Christ and His Word, we will create a guard against the offense that can so easily crop up in our flesh when His Word speaks to us.
In Romans 9:32, we are told that following God's Word can not simply become just a set of rules to us. It's not just a list of dos and don'ts. It must be something that resides in our hearts and not just our heads and hands. If we lose the heart of the Law. The relationship and devotion with God and His Word. We risk falling into a trap where we interpret God's Word in our ways. And when God confronts us about this, we'll find ourselves easily offended in Him as the Pharisees did.
In 1 Corinthians 1:22-24, we find that groups are looking for signs and wise words to convince them. They want outward things to make the Bible and Christ real. However, these will only get us so far. We won't take Christ as He is, the precious Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Our savior. The Only God who desires to be in relationship with us. If we can't accept Christ just for who He is and the Truth in His Word, we'll find ourselves picking and choosing facts and ideas about Him. We'll make Him into our own image instead of letting Him make us into the image He desires: His image. Picking and choosing about Christ will lead to offense because, eventually, Christ will confront us with who He is and we won't be able to accept it. Will we take Christ at His word? Will we accept Christ for who He is and let Him mold us into what He desires us to be?
In 1 Peter 2:8, the apostle warns that even the anointed can find offense in Christ. If we divert from our relationship with the Word or find ourselves struggling with obedience to His calling and purpose, we will stumble. Obey God's Word and follow Christ in committed relationship. Let Him guide you and find yourself firm and founded in Him. Divert or disobey and we'll find ourselves stumbling through life and in a pit of resentment, offense and resentment. Even bitterness.
All of these scriptures operate to show us the avenues and pitfalls that lead to offense in Christ. We can decide that His Kingdom isn't what we want (Isaiah 8:14). We can know just enough about him to be unimpressed when He shows up and thus miss out on the blessing (Matthew 13:57, Mark 6:3). We can become legalists and turn Christ and His Word into a set of codes rather than an invitation to relationship and thus making our own doctrine instead of adhering to His (Romans 9:32). We can try to make Jesus into our own image instead of letting Him make us into His and thus not recognize or accept Him when he shows up to operate in our lives (1 Corinthians 1:22-24). Finally, we can get distracted by life and circumstance and find ourselves diverting from our calling in Him or outright disobeying His desire for us. That can lead to pitfalls and dark places (1 Peter 2:8). Yes, a lot of what we do can make Christ into a rock of offense to us. However, Jesus chose this title for Himself for a reason. He actually operates as the stumbling block to our benefit.
Christ operates as a stumbling block in order to get our attention. If things start to go wrong If we start to get frustrated. If our world seems to collapse around us. It could be that Christ is trying to warn us. He might be trying to reach us. He might be tripping us up so we skin our spiritual knee on the dirt of circumstance and mistake instead of breaking our spiritual skull on the rocks of destruction.
When we feel ourselves stumbling in life, we can hold up God's Word to our lives. We can examine it and it will reveal anything that doesn't need to be there. If there is something that needs changing, the Word gives the answer to how to change. Just as good, we can ask God for guidance and help in changing and know that He will be there to help.
In Matthew 11:6, Christ promises blessing to any person who would embrace His ways and not find offense in Him. There is blessing in embracing God and deciding to not let His truths-hard or easy- to push us away from Him. If you have found yourself looking at Christ with offense in any way, today is the day to change it. Jesus could have been offended at all of us when He came 2000 years ago. He suffered and bled and died on a cross with few around to mourn Him. He wasn't offended by the lack of followers as He hung there dying. He asked God to forgive His accusers and murderers, but I think He also asked to forgive those who had abandoned Him out of fear, lack of faith or other reasons. They didn't really know what they were doing. And sometimes we don't know either. And that's okay. Because we have a God who loves us and is willing to help us up, even if it was He who caused us to fall in the first place. Embrace Him today and let Christ be your blessing.
Christ holds many titles throughout the Bible.
These are just a few titles, but one that should stick out during this season is that Christ is our Rock
(1 Corinthians 10:4). Christ is our rock in this time of trouble. He is a constant presence. He is strong. He is sturdy. He is sure. However, did you know that there are two types of rocks that Christ is referred to in the Bible? In fact, Christ refers to Himself as these during His earthly ministry. The concept behind these two rocks differ greatly from each other, yet they both hold great meaning to how we will approach Christ's words and our relationship with Him during these and other times in our lives.
Christ is referred to as the cornerstone in Psalms 118:22, Matthew 21:42, Acts 4:11, Ephesians 2:20 and 1 Peter 2:6. A cornerstone was a foundational element of any major building, especially the temple. It was both something that held up the building but also something everyone could see and recognize. Christ will hold us up today if we let Him. When we submit to Him as our foundation, others will see His effect on our lives and we will see it, too.
Psalm 118:22 talks of Christ as the cornerstone that was rejected. Yet, even in rejection, Christ became the chief foundation for all who would believe on God. Because He is God and His ways should be our ways. His covenant is the only covenant. Will we embrace that covenant this day?
In Matthew 21:42, Jesus refers back to the above Psalm, solidifying its place in prophecy and declaring himself the only way, truth and life for those who want a sure foundation. He also proclaims in this chapter that He will find a people who will found themselves on His life and principles. Will we reject Him or establish His ways in our lives?
In Acts 4:11, Peter proclaims the identity of Christ as cornerstone in much the same way. He does this not from the safety of the kings court like the Psalmist nor as the One True God as Christ. He does so as a witness before his accusers and those who would hear his testimony. Whether we face persecution, skepticism, accusation, intrigue or earnestness; we must proclaim who Christ is in our lives and what He can be in the lives of others when the opportunity arises.
In Ephesians 2:20, Paul tells us we become a part of the foundation for future generations and those who would embrace Christ. Our words and actions today, will bless those around us in the present, and those who come after us in the generations to come. Even so, Christ remains the key foundation and we must remember our place in the Kingdom - His Kingdom - cannot supplant the role Jesus holds. He is the one who died for our sins. He is the one who rose again. He is the one who is coming back again. I cannot do that. You cannot do that. Only Jesus - the One True God - can do and be that for us today.
Finally, in 1 Peter 2:6, the Apostle Peter proclaims that if we believe and found ourselves on Christ the Cornerstone, we will not be confounded. That means we will not be put to shame, we will not be dishonored or disgraced and we will not be disappointed. We may have felt shame in some of the decisions made in our lives. We may have found dishonor or disgraced ourselves with our words or actions. And life may have given us some disappointing results along the way. With Christ as our foundation, though, shame will flee. Grace and honor will flood into our lives. Disappointment will fade away. Christ wants to make our lives full and fulfilling. All we have to do is believe on Him this day and commit to making him our foundation. If we do, we will not be shaken. We will not be moved. We will stand firm and know that He is our God.
I hope this devotion has blessed you this day and I look forward to sharing Part 2 with you tomorrow. I know this isn't a typical Easter Devotion. However, Christ came to save us and set Himself as our foundation. He did so by living as an example, dying as our sacrifice and raising up as our savior. He did this all to establish Himself as our cornerstone and so we could have access to that firm foundation. Let Him be that to you today. God bless and keep searching.
To go along with this devotion, we have included a song from Hillsong. Enjoy and be blessed:
In this time of crisis, I wanted to remind everyone who has joined us in various media that we will be okay. Though pestilence has come and seems to be a dark cloud that hovers over the whole earth. Though the systems and ways of man seem to be behind or beneath the ability to handle this disease. Though fear, worry, chaos and anxiety seem to be grabbing a foothold in our communities and lives. We serve a God that can defeat it all. All we have to do is call on the Name of Jesus.
That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; (Philippians 2:10)
Jesus' Name has the ability to bring every person, every entity in the spiritual and everything in and under this earth to bow. Man must bow to God. Angels must bow. Every creature in the earth must bow. Every minion of Satan and even Satan himself must bow. We all know this will happen at the judgment seat of Christ, but that Name is just as powerful today as it will be in the end.
We can pray that this virus will bow itself to the will and power of God. We must all do our part to protect ourselves and each other from the spread of this virus, but we must also remember to call on the Name of the Lord. Because He is the great physician. He is our very present help in times of trouble. He is savior. Redeemer. Deliverer. He is the Great I AM. And it will be His power. His authority. His Great Name that will defeat this virus.
In Acts 2, Peter details some pretty scary sounding things:
wonders in heaven above, and signs in the earth beneath; blood, and fire, and vapour of smoke: The sun shall be turned into darkness, and the moon into blood, before that great and notable day of the Lord come: (Acts 2:19-20)
That's a lot of terrible, worrisome and frightening things. Even more so than this virus we are dealing with. Yet even when our health systems fail. Even when our governments miss the mark. Even when our fellow man falls short. Peter gives us something we can rely on. Someone we can call on:
And it shall come to pass, that whosoever shall call on the name of the Lord shall be saved. (Acts 2:21)
The context of this group of scriptures is prophetic in nature and concerns the end of days. However, we can still use it for our purposes in this time. If humanity will have the opportunity to call on God during these trying times in the future and find salvation, We can do the same today. Don't stop taking precautions. Don't let up in your treatment of any and all sickness that comes to you today. However, remember that you have a name that can save you. A Name that has delivered generation after generation from the hand of the enemy, from the specter of disease and the shadow of death. Call on that Name today and believe that He will save us. Individually and collectively.
In Jesus Name.
Below is a transcript of our YouTube Page. Enjoy reading along while you watch:
Scripture Reference here
Lydia isn’t a popular person in the Bible. She seemingly doesn’t do much. However, her actions and attitudes saved her house and helped the servants of God. Lydia was a merchant lady visiting Phillip (Acts 16: 12). Paul and Silas happened to be in the area and went to the river to teach on the Sabbath (13). She heard their message and worshiped the Lord and her heart was opened to the Lord (14). Like Cornelius in Acts 10, she had respect for and relationship with God. However, God wanted her to come into the New Covenant with Him. She attended (listened) to what Paul (the messenger of God) had to say. She was open to hearing from God and His messenger. She received the message and did something about it(was baptized with her whole house; 15) .
She went beyond just the experience of salvation, though. She offered Paul and Silas (the servants of God) shelter (16). She knew the dangers the city posed to godly people.Sure enough, Paul and Silas found themselves in trouble. They were arrested, humiliated, beaten and imprisoned. God delivered them and they went right back to Lydia’s house before moving on with their mission (40). They knew they could trust her. They received comfort in that home and strength for the journey ahead.
Lydia came to God before Paul ever came to her. She had committed herself to living a Godly life even though she was from a city that was known for idol worship and immorality(Rev. 2:18-29). Phillip was a similar place. Yet she had maintained some level of connection with God. It shows us that no matter where you live or what is around you, living for God is possible and God doesn’t forget you in those situations. The question is, when God comes around, will we notice enough to come and connect with Him? Or will we get too busy with everyday life or the circumstances that surround us? Lydia didn’t let her work or her situation prevent her from engaging with a person speaking Truth.
God sent Paul to the exact place Lydia was at. He started to preach things that were familiar to her, but with newer information. He talked about God, but also about a Savior named Jesus and New Covenant that anyone could be a part of. She didn’t reject this information, but received it and was baptized. It may not be as foundational as salvation, but God does want to speak some things into our lives. The reality is, though, a lot of Christians have a certain level of understanding that they aren’t open to receiving new information. We have things figured out and we are doing just fine with it. However, God wants to give us something deeper. Something more. Something new. Lydia could have rejected Paul and stayed with what she had already. However, her current relationship with God and desire for greater relationship with Him drove her to listen when God’s messenger showed up.
Lydia did something about what she heard. She was baptized and so was her entire family. This was the primary action for what she had heard. When God shows up and has something to say, there will always be an obvious and primary action for us to take as a result of His word to us. It may be to seek salvation. It may be to start a fast. It may be to give of our money or resources. It may be to get involved in a ministry or to connect with a person who needs God. Whatever the action is, God will make it plain and simple to understand. Will we do that task?
Lydia did more than just the obvious, though. She took Paul and Silas in to give them shelter, fellowship and comfort. Even after these two men were made fugitives and convicts, she welcomed them in to her home. She wasn’t concerned about what the public thought, she wanted to help the men of God. Nothing of what she heard from Paul at the river side indicated she do this. She just felt it within herself to do it. There is a deeper level of action to take some times. An action that isn’t even expressed directly by God. However, he has put things in us from birth that we are naturally drawn towards. When we start listening and doing the will of God, those innate things start to conform to where our heart and mind is being led. What talent, gift or affinity do you have? Will you let that be given over to serve and act for God when you start to listen and obey Him? You might find that God has a plan to use you in special and unique ways that only apply to you.
If we will start to come to Jesus, He will find a way to come to us. Once we have connected, God will speak exactly what we need to hear so we can progress in relationship with Him. When we take those obedient actions, though, we may feel a pull to go beyond for Christ. Will we be like Lydia and go the extra mile? It might not even feel like it’s much to us, but it will be to God and those he leads us to help.
We hope you have been blessed by this installment in the Come Hear Do series. Until next time, God Bless and Keep Searching.
Come, Hear, Do.
Three Simple Verbs.
And yet those words can transform your life completely.
In Luke 6:47-48, Jesus Christ says “Whosoever cometh to me, and heareth my sayings, and doeth them, I will shew you to whom he is like: He is like a man which built an house, and digged deep and laid the foundation on a rock: and when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently upon that house, and could not shake it: for it was found upon a rock."
When we come to Jesus, we find ourselves in a place to hear what we should do, how we should do and where we should do it.
Jesus is waiting on us to come to Him. Will we make time for Jesus, even when it seems an inconvenience to us? Will we sacrifice extra time at work trying to get ahead so we can make it to church or a Bible Study? Will we give up our recreation and down time to get alone with God in prayer and His Word? Will we give up a couple of meals to fast so we can get into better connection with Christ when we read His Word and pray? These sacrifices, small and great, can result in closer connection to God and a better opportunity to grow in relationship with Him.
Once we have come to Christ, will we open our ears to hear what He has to say? Often, our prayer time is a one sided conversation where we tell God what we want expecting Him to simply say yes and then move on with our daily routine. Even with reading His Word and fasting, it can be one sided. We read the Bible to get our understanding of God’s voice, bringing our thoughts and ideas to the forefront. God’s Word is His voice to us. When we bring our voice into the equation, it’s like talking over God as He tries to speak. We fast expecting to get God to open the windows of heaven and pour down the blessings. Instead, we must humble ourselves and open ourselves to what God wants to really do in our lives. God wants to speak to us. When we finally give him the time of day, will we let him speak what He desires for us to hear?
Finally, once we have heard from God, will we do what He prescribes? Rarely does God speak and not provide us with a subsequent command or action to take. How wonderful, that God doesn’t just want to speak great and profound things. He also gives us something to do with those words. When we pray, will we silence our voice and sit in His presence and allow Him to direct us to what we must do? When we read His Word, will we let the voice of God direct our steps to enact the Bible into our every day lives? When we fast, will we do so in a way that humbles our flesh and opens up our spirit to serve Christ in all that He requires?
If we want to build our lives (the house) on solid rock (relationship with Christ), we must come to Christ, hear what He wants to say to us and then go and do it. That’s the digging. The rock isn’t always something easy to see. It takes work to find and uncover truth. Thankfully, we have a Master who will lead and guide us in that work and discovery.
Over the coming weeks, we will be examining specific events and teachings in the Bible that require just this: to come, to hear and to do. Our hope is that all who take hold of these lessons will advance their relationship with Christ and find themselves prepared for every trial and tribulation that life brings.
God doesn’t guarantee an idyllic life. He simply promises us the ability to live this life to the fullest and to overcome everything that we face as we progress in our relationship with Him. We hope you join us on this journey.
Until next time, God Bless and Keep Searching.
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Chris Farris is the author of The Way, a manual detailing how to implement the Beatitudes into your life. He review events and other media and offers other insights into writing and working for the Kingdom of God.