Tuesday, April 30, 2019

Contentment is Sufficiency in Christ

I don't say this out of need, for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. Philippians 4:11
Contentment is Sufficiency in Christ
It is my belief that the greatest statement of Christian maturity is Paul’s statement of contentment in any circumstance in the verse above.  Read it agian and see how much wisdom and life experience is behind this statement. 
Was he in need?  Probably. To Paul, it made no difference whether he was free or bound to a soldier, whether the day was hot and humid or bleak and frigid, whether the Philippians sent a gift or failed to make contact.  The point is that he knew that contentment is not found in circumstances. Circumstances are unstable because they can always change. He knew that being content in Christ meant to be content always, in every situation. 
Content may be a mistranslation of the original language, even though many versions use it. The Greek word autarkes, which is translated as content, really doesn't refer to one's emotional state of satisfaction. Rather, the word autarkesmeans "self-sufficient" or "self-reliant." 
As the Christians at Philippi first heard this letter read in their assembly, they may well have been shocked by Paul's claim to be “self-sufficient”. They were all-too-familiar with the whole concept of "self-sufficiency" because it was prized by the popular philosophers of their day, the gurus who preached in the marketplace.  Many of these counselors were advocates of Stoicism, the most popular philosophical system in the Greco-Roman world during the first century A.D. At the core of Stoic ethics was the view that human happiness can be attained through self-sufficiency; through relying only upon oneself in all things.   SELF-HELP GURUS!!
If we can stop depending on the opinions and help of others, the Stoics argued, then we can be truly happy, and nothing will take away our contentment. So, at first blush, Paul appears to adopt the Stoic way of life when he says, "I have learned to be self-sufficient with whatever I have." How very Stoic of Paul! Or so it seems.   
Philippians 4:13 explains everything. Paul freely and eagerly gives away the secret of contentment: "I can do all things through him who strengthens me." Though the text doesn't tell us who “Him” is, the overall context in Philippians leaves no room for doubt. Paul is speaking here of Jesus Christ. 
Without verse 13, verse 11 sounds very Stoic. Paul seems to say that he has learned to rely upon himself in every situation. But with verse 13 in mind, verse 11 reads in an utterly non-Stoic way. In fact, Paul is not self-reliant at all, but wholly reliant upon Christ.and then he told me, My grace is enough; it's all you need. My strength comes into its own in your weakness. Once I heard that, I was glad to let it happen. I quit focusing on the handicap and began appreciating the gift. It was a case of Christ's strength moving in on my weakness.  2Corinthians 12:9
How about you?  What is it that you seek to find your strength from?  Are you trying to be self-sufficient, only relying on yourself Where do you go for the power to get through the tough times?  Do you seek consolation from sources other that Jesus Christ? We can turn to lots of different sources in life to find strength, but we will never find the strength and contentment for this life until we discover what Paul did – that we can only find true contentment and the strength we need in Jesus Christ. 
…that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love.  Ephesians3:16-17

Monday, April 29, 2019

A Relentless Pursuit

But godliness with contentment is great gain, for we brought nothing into the world, and we cannot take anything out of the world.  But if we have food and clothing, with these we will be content.  1 Timothy 6:6-8
A Relentless Pursuit
The dictionary defines contentment as being “easy of mind, to be free from worry, from guilt, to be satisfied.” It is a beautiful place to be, but it seems so hard to find.  How content are you? Do we really understand true contentment?  It seems like we are constantly in pursuit of the “next thing”, or the “one more thing I need and that’s it.”  Lots of people seem to have all the pieces of contentment — career, health, family, wealth — but are still profoundly discontent.  For it to be something we think we understand, and have, we spend a lot of time and make a lot of bad choices looking for it. 
Historian Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., observes that our society is marked by “inextinguishable discontent.” Our quest is “what is better and what is next.” We want a better job with better pay and a better boss.  We want better relationships, a better car and a better backhand in tennis or a longer drive in golf. We have a propensity to live endlessly for the next thing — the next weekend, the next vacation, the next purchase, and the next experience. We are never satisfied, never content, and envious of those who have what we have not attained or accumulated.  
What does true contentment look like for the Christian? Here is an amazing truth. The Bible is saying that whether you have enough money or not, whether you have abundance or are in very strained circumstances, you can still have contentment because the secret of contentment is not in what you have or don't have. But we don’t often feel this way.  What are we looking for truly?  What are we seeking or trying to do when we skip from one thing to the next? 
The Heart of the Matter  
• Contentment isn’t denying our feelings about wanting and desiring what we can’t have, but instead it is freedom from being controlled by those feelings.  It is not just self-denial.  
• Contentment isn’t pretending things are right when they are not, but instead it displays the peace that comes from knowing that God is bigger than any problems and that he works them all out for our good. 
• Contentment isn’t a feeling of well-being contingent on keeping circumstances under control, but instead it promotes a joy in spite of circumstances, looking to God who never varies. 
• Contentment is not based on external circumstances, but rather on an internal source. Contentment is of the heart.
Contentment is a matter of accepting from God’s hand what He sends because we know that He is a good God and wants to give good gifts to his children.  We WILLINGLY accept from God’s hand that which he gives.  All that is needful He will supply.  In other words, contentment and joy must be sought within us.  No amount of money or possessions will bring us the state of joy and peace that is contentment.  No, true contentment comes from within. As a matter of fact, too much of anything brings stress in our life.  I think most of us believe that.   
What about your spirit and the spirits of those around you?  Do you know people who are really content or are they still searching for that something they think will bring them the peace of contentment? We can spend our whole lives chasing contentment and if we never look to Jesus, we won’t ever find it.  We will only find temporary contentment that disappoints and leaves us emptier than ever.  Look to Jesus only.  Look to Him today and find true and lasting contentment. 
I have said these things to you, that in me you may have peace. In the world you will have tribulation. But take heart; I have overcome the world. John 16:33

Friday, April 26, 2019

He Hears

And Jesus stopped and said, "Call him here." So they *called the blind man, saying to him, "Take courage, stand up! He is calling for you." Mark 10:49

The voice of pain cut through the loudness of the crowd. The one who seeks to minister hears the world differently than others.  The verse above is about a story in the Bible where Jesus is leaving Jericho with His disciples and with a great crowd following Him.  Along the side of the road as they left the town, there was a blind man named Bartimaeus. When he heard that it was Jesus coming by, he began to call out for him.  People around him told him to be quiet and but he called out louder, “Jesus, Son of David, have mercy on me!”  Jesus heard him above the crowd and stopped. The heart’s cry of one in need is far sweeter to Christ than the shallow hallelujahs of the crowd. 
Mark records“Jesus stopped and said, ‘Call him” (v. 49a). Jesus stopped what He was doing, where He was going, and asked the disciples to call this blind beggar.  He came without hesitation.  With abandonment!  He was excited and expectant. Throwing aside his cloak, he jumped up – not typical behavior for a blind man. Bartimaeus LET GO of that which he had clung to for security and protection.
It’s the ability, as well as the willingness, to relinquish control of and obsession about plans and situations and other people, both past and present. People who let go seem to be more successful at navigating the twists and turns of life than those who can’t or won’t.
Stumbling awkwardly in his blindness led only by desperation and faith he abandoned his securities and possessions and came to Jesus.  Can you imagine how excited he was? If his heart was pounding before, what was it doing now?  What a painting this would make. Face to face – Jesus with the most penetrating eyes ever and the sightless eyes of Bartimaeus framed by a countenance of ultimate expectation. This is the way to come to Jesus! Jesus said to Bartimaeus, "Go, your faith has healed you."  
Mark tells us that when Bartimaeus received his sight, he "followed Jesus along the road." Can you imagine the testimony that his eyesight must have been as he told others the impact that Jesus had in his life?  Have you told Jesus what you want?  James 4:2saysYou have not because you ask not.  Paul told us, Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. (Philippians 4:6)Just as Jesus heard Bartimaeus over the roar of a crowd, He hears us when we call out to Him.  In fact, He is waiting for us to call out to Him.  Are you listening for Him?  Like a blind man who has learned to listen for survival, we need to be listening for the voice of our Savior.  

Scripture to Claim:And Jesus said to him, “What do you want me to do for you?” And the blind man said to him, “Rabbi, let me recover my sight.” And Jesus said to him, “Go your way; your faith has made you well.” And immediately he recovered his sight and followed him on the way. 
Mark 10:51-52

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Living in Hope

Now may the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing, so that you will abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. Romans 15:13

The only way we can get through this broken life is with hope. Hope that the body will heal.  Hope that our child will pass.  Hope that the diagnosis will be treatable.  Hope that someone will love and accept me.  And the only way to move past all our hopes is in faith.  Faith that, whatever the outcome of all our hopes, God is in control and He ultimately holds us in His hand.  He loves us and cares enough about us to guide our steps and number our days, and every breath we take is because of Him. He will work everything together for our good. And faith says that even if it doesn’t look good to me, He knows best. 
There are the really hard days, the ones you can’t see around the corner into tomorrow, and hope is elusive.  These are the days when you know you have no control or power, and even with faith and trust in God, these days are hard. But there will never be a time when you can be closer to your Father.  With hope and faith every step is taken so cautiously because you never know where the landmines are and the last thing you need is step on one.  This is living in hope for tomorrow with faith for today, faith for this hour, for this minute.   These are the times when “one step at a time” is the most ridiculous description of the path of blindness you are on, when you don’t think you can possibly go one more blind step.  Every single move requires all the faith you can muster. 
We all deal with different situations in our lives that try to steal our hope every day. They could be physical or financial. They could be emotional or spiritual. Possibly you have become hopeless about things that are affecting your life such as addiction, anger, pride, financial problems, etc. With Easter just being a few days behind us, the good news of the power of the resurrection and the promise of living hope is still fresh on my mind.  We have living hope because of what Jesus did for us on the cross and because he rose from the dead.  The power that raised Jesus from the dead has power over your life and the things that are stealing your hope. 
Have you seen the resurrected Savior’s power in your life?  Have you slipped your hands in the nail scarred hands?  Every day is Resurrection Day in our lives.  Every day we have access to that power for everything that comes our way. Every day, we can be resurrected in our wrecked lives.  We don’t have to live in despair.  We can live in the hope and power of the resurrection that brings determination and courage.  That power gives us the strength to live for the Lord in hope.  That power suffocates despair and propels us forward.  Nothing we are facing or will ever face is too much for the resurrection power of Jesus in our lives.  
Real sustaining hope, the kind that gets us through the tough times, doesn’t come from what you believe.  After all, when the walls are falling down around us it is pretty tough to have hope. But real hope comes fromwho you believe.  Today and every day we can proclaim the hope we have in living with a living hope that makes every tomorrow an opportunity for blessing and success.  We have that hope because of what He did for us on the cross.  The resurrection of Jesus fixes what is broken in man.  Through His brokenness on the cross, he heals our brokenness.  Through the resurrection He brings us victory every day of our lives. 

Scripture to Claim:
Humble yourselves, therefore, under God's mighty hand, that he may lift you up in due time. Cast all your anxiety on him because he cares for you.  1 Peter 5:6-7

Wednesday, April 24, 2019

Waiting in Despair

I would have despaired unless I had believed that I would see the goodness of the LORD In the land of the living. Wait for the LORD; Be strong and let your heart take courage; Yes, wait for the LORD. Psalms 27:13-14

Waiting is never fun.  Sometimes the suspense and fear of what might be coming can build up so much that we can’t even think straight.  We fear that whatever we are waiting on will be worse than we thought it would be.  We cause ourselves much physical and emotional distress just imagining what might be coming.  We can even sink into depression and despair stressing over how something mightturn out.  Often the actual result is never as bad as we imagined. 
Jesus had told the Disciples many times what was going to happen to Him as His time on earth came to an end.  He told them he would be killed but would rise again, three days later.  They knew Jesus well, personally in fact.  Yet they still worried and spent the three days after His crucifixion waiting in despair, even in fear.  They had been with Jesus through His ministry.  They had seen Him perform miracles first-hand. But they had a hard time believing the promise He had made that His crucifixion would not be the last time they saw Him.  
Jesus knows how hard it is to trust Him in the waiting.  Even His Disciples struggled with it. Seasons of waiting in life are sometimes short and sometimes very long, even years long. Instead of waiting in despair like we so often do, we need to wait in faith, resting in our Father’s promises and trusting His good will for our lives.  Complete faith is made obvious by complete obedience.  Obedience is moving forward, one faith-step at a time, in the darkness of waiting.  Sometimes we have to grope our way through a season, but the point is not to sit down and wait for the darkness to pass.  Stumbling forward awkwardly in blind faith is obedience! We can eventually find our way to the light.  Relinquishing control and fear about what might happen and what we think should be will free us to live in the hope of Jesus Christ, and what He has for us. To wait in hope and expectation, we have to be completely given to Him and His will for our lives.  We have to be okay with whatever the outcome is.  We have to be desperate for His purpose and plan for our lives.
What are you waiting on today that is causing you despair? What can you do during this time? 
  • Open your hands and slip them into the nail scarred hands.  Give it all over to Him.  
  • Seek His wisdom and direction and ask for the handwriting on the wall!  Ask Him to help you have the wisdom to know what He is leading you to do.  
  • And if you are just to wait, then wait in faith and not despair.  Wait in expectation, not dread.  
  • Cling to Him, in prayer and in study. Trust Him. Rest in Him and let Him work.
Trust him in the waiting.  Don’t despair even when the waiting is long.  Believe His promises and wait in faith and hope. 

Scripture to Claim:
And those who know your name put their trust in you, for you, O Lord, have not forsaken those who seek you.  Psalm 9:10

Tuesday, April 23, 2019

Sought, then Brought

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:35-42The passage above tells about how Andrew reached his brother Peter for Jesus, even though Andrew was just introduced to Jesus himself.  By following his example, we find a practical method which shows us how to share our faith.  The first step is to Seek Out – looking for those people in our lives that need Jesus, so we can tell about our experience with Jesus.  The next thing Andrew did after seeking out his brother, was to take him to Jesus. 
Sought, then Brought - And he brought him to Jesus.
Andrew not only sought his brother, he also brought his brother to Jesus. So, we must not only seek out our unsaved friends and share with them our own experience, we must also bring them to a place where they can make a decision for Jesus. In Andrew’s case he literally brought his brother to Jesus. In our case we can at least bring them to a place where they have an opportunity to hear the Gospel and be touched by the power of God. We can bring them to church.  
For all we do we cannot stop short of this because this is the key. You see, the object of evangelism is to evangelize. The object of fishing is to catch fish.  The object of fishing is not to bait the hook well. It is not to see the fish take the bait. It is not to get the fish on the line, but to get the fish in the boat. Too many people today just want to start a fishing society. They want to have meetings, keep an accurate membership roll, and make sure the members pay their dues. They want to have scheduled meetings in which they talk about catching fish. There they can plan out strategies for catching fish, rules to follow when catching fish, regulations concerning the proper attire for fishing, and so on. Are fishermen those who join fishing societies? No, fishermen are people who catch fish.
The real issue is a simple one. We Christians do a lot of talking about fishing, but what we really need to do is fish. If we’re going to bring our friends to Jesus, we must do something about bringing them. We must take the time to seek them out, to share with them our own experience of Christ, and to bring them to church. That is the least we can do. It is about getting out of the pew and out of the doors of the church.  Sometimes we get so caught up in going through the motions of life that we are too busy to add anything else to our plate.  We want to come to church on Wednesdays and Sundays, sing songs, have a Bible study, listen to the pastor and be done.  But God’s plan for us is to know Him and to make Him known.  The church is for believers but then the believers are supposed to take the church to the unbelievers.  He has given us something that we need to give to others.  There are people out there that need to know what we know. They need Jesus and if not us, then who? Who will tell them about Jesus and His saving grace and resurrection power? Andrew went and got his brother and took him to Jesus.  We need to go out and take Jesus to the people who need Him.

Scripture to Claim:
I have given you as a covenant to the people, a light to the nations, to open the eyes that are blind, to bring out the prisoners from the dungeon, from the prison those who sit in darkness.  Isaiah42:6-7

Monday, April 22, 2019

Seek Out

Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother, was one of the two who heard what John had said and who had followed Jesus. The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon and tell him, "We have found the Messiah" (that is, the Christ). And he brought him to Jesus. Jesus looked at him and said, "You are Simon son of John. You will be called Cephas" (which, when translated, is Peter). John 1:35-42
Let's face it. When it comes to witnessing, two things are true about us. The first is that we all desire to see our friends, relatives, and acquaintances come to know Jesus. The second is that we feel somewhat at a loss about doing anything in order to see that happen.
Without a doubt all of us have some difficulty in sharing our faith. It's not that we don't want to share our faith. It's not that we do not have concern over lost relatives and friends. In fact, we do care. Because we care, we feel a sense of guilt over not doing much to reach them. But the task at times seems to be too much for us. After all, don't you have to be quite a Bible scholar in order to lead people to Jesus?
In the Bible, we see many people sharing Jesus who were without formal theological training. In fact, the most effective witnesses were just barely saved themselves.In the passage above, Andrew reached his brother Peter for Jesus. But Andrew was just introduced to Jesus himself. By following his example, we find a practical method which shows us how to share our faith. It is a simple method, yet effective.  
Seek Out…The first thing Andrew did was to find his brother Simon…The first step Andrew took to lead his brother to Jesus was that he sought him out. We must take the same first step. If we are going to be effective in leading people to Jesus, we must first seek out unsaved people.  Some things to consider are:
  • Where are the lost people in your life? – What is your mission field?  Andrew went right for the person closet to him that he knew needed Jesus too.  Think of the people in your closest circles.
  • What do you know about them? -It has been said that each of us has a circle of friends, relatives, and acquaintances which number about forty people with whom we have a certain rapport.  These are people you know by name. These are not strangers. These are people you can seek out for Jesus. 
  • You need to care – a lot.- We must understand the gravity of their situation. We must understand that without Christ they are truly lost and under the condemnation of sin. They are condemned people. Without Christ there is no hope for them. That is why God commands us to go into all the world. That is why Jesus came. You need to have a fire in your soul to spread this message.
  • What are you going to share?- Andrew not only sought his brother, he shared what he had found with him.Andrew shared his own experience of discovering the Messiah. We need to share our own experience of Christ with people. We are not talking about deep, complex, theological knowledge here. Most people are not interested in arguing about deep theological truths, and if they do want to argue, they are not wanting to receive anything. What we are talking about is simply sharing our own personal experience of how Christ has met our needs.  
Seeking those who need to hear about Jesus is only the first step in sharing your story of what Christ has done for you. Tomorrow we will look at what Andrew did next after he found his brother.  Think about the people in your life.  They are all there for a reason, not by accident.  Who needs Jesus?  Who needs to hear your redemption story?  
Scripture to Claim:
This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.  John 17:3  

Friday, April 19, 2019


Now there was in Joppa a disciple named Tabitha, which, translated, means Dorcas. She was full of good works and acts of charity. Acts 9:36 

Dorcas, (also called Tabitha), was a woman in the Bible who lived in Joppa.  Dorcas was a very giving person, known for her good works of making things for needy people.  She was also known for her love and care of all people.  When she became ill and died, all the people who knew her were gathered around her, weeping and mourning.  One woman, Lydda, knew that Peter was close by and she sent for him. When Peter came, he went up to the room where she was, with many of the widows she had cared for, weeping.  They showed Peter all the robes and clothing they were wearing that Dorcas had made for them.  Many of them wouldn’t even have clothes to wear if it weren’t for Dorcas’ loving kindness.  
The Bible does not say, but some Theologians believe that Peter was called because they knew he could resurrect her.  Some say that they were begging Peter to raiser her from the dead because they couldn’t stand the thought of being without her, because they loved her, and she was so kind.  What an awesome testimony!  How incredible must this woman’s obedience and service to God be that all these people just couldn’t bear the thought of life without her?  The Bible does say that Peter sent them all out the room, knelt down to pray and then turned to Dorcas’ body and said Arise.  She opened her eyes and sat up.  The word spread, and many people were saved because of her story.  
In those days she became ill and died, and when they had washed her, they laid her in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, hearing that Peter was there, sent two men to him, urging him, “Please come to us without delay.” So Peter rose and went with them. And when he arrived, they took him to the upper room. All the widows stood beside him weeping and showing tunics and other garments that Dorcas made while she was with them.  But Peter put them all outside and knelt down and prayed; and turning to the body the said, “Tabitha, arise.” And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up. Then, calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. And it became known throughout all Joppa, and many believed in the Lord.  And he stayed in Joppa for many days with one Simon, a tanner. Acts 9:36-43
Not only was Dorcas a living testimony of Christ, but even in her death, people were led to Christ.  Dorcas was not raised from the dead for her sake.  She was in Heaven.  Peter raised her partly for the benefit of the widows who needed her help and partly because so many people came to know Jesus as a result of her healing.  How about you?  Will there be people trying to bring you back to life after you are gone because of all the love and kindness you have shown?  Or because of the help you have given?  
James 1:27 says Religion that is pure and undefiled before God the Father is this: to visit orphans and widows in their affliction, and to keep oneself unstained from the world.  Dorcas was a perfect example of how God wants us to help others as an extension of Him. We need to live our lives like Dorcas, not because we want to be idolized after we die, but because of a genuine desire to spread the love of God and the gospel of His Good News to all those around us.  

Scripture to Claim:
Do not neglect to do good and to share what you have, for such sacrifices are pleasing to God. Hebrews 13:16

Thursday, April 18, 2019

Beware of the Gaps

Do not love the world or the things in the world. The love of the Father is not in those who love the world; for all that is in the world — the desire of the flesh, the desire of the eyes, the pride in riches — comes not from the Father but from the world. And the world and its desire are passing away, but those who do the will of God live forever.  1 John 2:15-17
We all need some down time, just to relax and be still.  However, it is during these idle moments that Satan can break in and try to lead us down a path we don’t want to go down.  These gaps in our lives are usually where we get in trouble if we are not careful and intentional about every minute.  Satan knows that the desires of the flesh are strong, and a bored mind is easily tempted. It may be something as heavy as pornography or drugs and alcohol that tempt you when you are still, quiet, and no one is looking.  It may be something as light and fun as eating and shopping that we do because we want to feel better but done in excess causes horrible consequences on our health and finances.  Or it can be a trail of depression and sadness that overcomes you when you are quiet and thinking about the struggles you are experiencing, which can lead to other wrong paths.  Depression and sadness can lead to chemical abuse, self-medicating to take the pain away. Discontentment and boredom can lead to shopping or pornography or whatever we can find that entertains us and bring a quick minute of pleasure.  Satan likes to seize those moments when we let our guard down. He knows every trick in the book to seduce us away from Christ.  He preys on our insecurities and sets us up to be destroyed.
When we let Satan gain control over our mind and thoughts, we are shutting Christ out.  The things that we let in that lead us away always bring more pain and troubles into our lives than the things we are running away from. We don’t usually see it coming so we need to be on guard all the time for things that can lead us away from God.  One little idle moment can be a victory for Satan if we are not on guard.  
Our quiet times and empty places need to be given to the Lord, asking Him to cover us, protect us, and allow us the refreshment we need in safety from the enemy.  When you have some free time and you feel yourself drifting, pray and say not today Satan! 

Scripture to Clam:
Control yourselves. Be on your guard. Your enemy the devil is like a roaring lion. He prowls around looking for someone to chew up and swallow. 1Peter 5:8

Wednesday, April 17, 2019

Defeating Bitterness

Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving on another as God in Christ forgave you.  Ephesians 4:31-32

Bitterness can be a destructive force in our heart if it lingers and grows.  We should always be on guard and be careful that we don’t let a root of bitterness go unchecked.  If we do find ourselves overcome with bitterness, with the help of God it can be defeated and overcome in our life. Instead of being consumed by bitterness, we need to learn how to stop bitterness. How do we defeat bitterness? 
How do you get rid of a root? You get a shovel and pick and you dig it out. Digging roots up that are deeply entrenched in the ground and have grown and spread out is not easy. Dealing with bitterness may not be easy and you may have do some things that go against our human nature. But if bitterness is going to be dealt with, some tough steps have to be taken.
Forget What Caused It
Ephesians 4:31“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.” The words “put away” mean “to dispose of.” It literally means to throw in the trash can. We are to look at whatever hurt us, put it in the right perspective, see it as it really is, trash that needs to be disposed of in our life. 
In his book, “Lee: The Last Years,” Charles Flood tells of how after the war, General Robert E. Lee visited a lady that took him to the remains of a grand old tree in front of her house. The tree had been like a family heirloom. She cried as she pointed out the limbs that had been destroyed by Federal artillery fire and the trunk that had been defaced by the Union army. She looked at Lee and asked, “What should she do about it?”After a moment of silence, Lee said, “Cut it down, my dear Madam, and forget it.” Whatever it was that injured you and left you full of bitterness, throw it away. Cut it down and forget it. 
Forgive Who Cause It 
Ephesians 4:32, says “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” In verse 31, the Bible tells us to put away our bitterness and then in verse 32, it tells us to forgive those who hurt or insulted us. Forgiveness means actually forgiving and letting the matter go. We are to forgive as God has forgiven us. God does not forgive and then bring the matter up again. It is forgiven and forgotten. 
We must forget whatever injured us and forgive whoever insulted us. That may not be easy, but on the other hand, is it worth your joy, peace, happiness, and power with God being crowded out of your life.

Scripture to Claim:
And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heave may forgive you your trespasses. 

Tuesday, April 16, 2019

A Bitter Root

Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord. See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.  Hebrews 12:14-15

There are times in life when things happen to us that we resent and many times we react by venting our feelings in destructive ways. Sometimes our reaction can get us into trouble. 
The writer of Hebrews tells us that one of the things that get us in trouble is bitterness. A bitter heart can cause us many problems in life, emotionally, physically, socially, and spiritually. Bitterness can steal relationships and your life away from you if you aren’t careful. Let’s look at what the writer had to say about bitterness and learn how to handle bitterness rather than it handling us.
The Definition of Bitterness
Our word “bitterness” comes from an old root word meaning to bite. That is very suggestive. Bitterness is like being bitten by a snake, releasing his venom and poison into our heart and life.  Bitterness is that feeling of hurt, resentment, anger, hate, and even revenge, that often build up in our heart when we have been bitten by certain experiences of life.
The Expression of Bitterness
James Merritt said, “Bitterness is harbored hurt hidden in the heart.” That is true, but the problem is, bitterness does not stay hidden.  When the prophet Jeremiah was persecuted by his family, opposed by the rulers of Jerusalem, hated by the people, he broke down and lashed out at everybody. In the book of Jeremiah, there are several monologues where he expressed his bitterness openly to God and accused Him of putting him into the ministry against his will. Jeremiah even cursed the man who carried the news of his birth to his father. Jeremiah’s example reminds us that bitterness is basically expressed two ways. Sometimes our bitterness is vented toward others, sometimes it is vented toward God. 
·      First, bitterness is expressed to others in our lives- For example you may be bitter at a boss that fired you, a spouse that walked out on you, a father who abused you, or a business partner that cheated you out of a lot of money. 
·      Bitterness is also expressed to God– For example you may be bitter at God because of chronic illness, loss of a loved one, or difficult life circumstances.
Have you ever seen a house, or the side of a house, completely covered up with vines that have grown up the wall and completely covered it?  That is what bitterness can do to our lives. The writer of Hebrews describes bitterness as a plant that develops to the point that it takes over in our life.  First it starts as a root.  it has to be cultivated.  There must be soil, sun, and water to nourish a root.  When we have a root of bitterness it can grow into an overgrown jungle plant if we nourish – or harbor it for a long time.  We allow it to grow and develop in our life instead of dealing with the feelings of bitterness when they first come up.  It will soon take over our life, crowding out all the good things like joy, happiness, contentment, and peace.  
We need to heed the words of the writer of Hebrews, See to it that no one fails to obtain the grace of God; that no “root of bitterness” springs up and causes trouble, and by it many become defiled.  If you a root of bitterness taking hold, take it to God. Don’t harbor it, thereby nourishing it so it can grow into a vine that strangles your life.
Scripture to Claim:Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice.  Ephesians 4:31

Monday, April 15, 2019


Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life, And I shall dwell in the house of the LORD forever.  Psalm 23:6

Surely God wants nothing to do with me.  Surely He is disappointed in all my failures. Surely He sees my continuous failed efforts to get myself together – only to have to continuously start over, sometimes from 3 steps back.  Surely He can’t forgive me.   Surely He would never pursue my heart or chase after me to have a relationship with Him. Surely He is not jealous for me. Surely I don’t deserve His love, mercy and goodness.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life…Surely that wasn’t meant for me. 
David wrote Psalm 23 when he was older, looking back on his life.  If you have read anything at all about David, you must have read about his many failures as well as his victories.  Yes, he was the boy who killed Goliath.  Yes, he was the shepherd boy who became a king. Yes, he was a man after God’s own heart.  But he was also the man who took another man’s wife, Bathsheba, as he was off fighting a war.  He was also the man that had her husband killed.  David and Bathsheba had a baby together and that baby died.  How do you get past these kinds of failures in life and be able to testify that you know surelyGod’s goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life?
The answer is that David believed something that we sometimes have a hard time believing. He knew that he was forgiven, set free, and redeemed.  When he looked back at his life, David didn’t see his sin, he saw the goodness of God, over and over again in his life.  He didn’t see the shame, the guilt, and the failures.  Every wrong thing in his past was covered by the goodness and mercy of God. When we ask for forgiveness, God forgives us.  And when He looks back on our lives, He doesn't see the sin that He has forgiven. He doesn't want us to live in that bondage.  He freed us so He wants us to live free in His goodness.  
You don’t have to live with shame and guilt following you, surrounding you, and suffocating you.  The lies of Satan will keep you from believing what David believed - that you are redeemed, and that God plans for goodness and mercy for you all the days of your life.  Yes, it was meant for you.  He has been faithful and good to you already.  The lens of shame and guilt cannot see the goodness of God in your life. 
Surely God does want everything to do with you.  Surely He picks you up every time you fail so you can try again.  Surely He will forgive you if you ask.  Surely He chases after you.  Surely He is jealous for you.  Surely you deserve His love, mercy and goodness.  Surely goodness and mercy will follow you all the days of your life…Surely that was meant for you because your Heavenly Father loves you. 

Scripture to Claim:

For the Lord God is a sun and shield; the Lord bestows favor and honor. No good thing does he withhold from those who walk uprightly. Psalm 84:11 

Friday, April 12, 2019

The Gift of Friendship

Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor.  For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up.   Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone?  And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart. Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

One of the greatest gifts God has given us is that of friends.  He knew that we would not be able to do this life on our own.  We have Him but sometimes we also need someone beside us holding our hand, praying with us and for us, and fighting our battles with us.  1 Samuel 18:1speaks of the close friendship of David and Jonathan - As soon as he had finished speaking to Saul, the soul of Jonathan was knit to the soul of David, and Jonathan loved him as his own soul. Have you ever had a friend that you were so close to that you felt like your souls were knit together?  I have, and it is a beautiful mystery how you can feel so close to another individual that you may not have even known for years.  When God puts people together, He doesn’t follow any rules.  
The Bible gives us some good information on friendships: 
A Friend is True, Unchangeable- Knowing someone involves sharing your mind and heart...Loving someone involves the sharing of your emotions.  Love is the basic quality of friendship.  People will accept or reject the person that we reveal.  True friends are there for us in good times and bad. They come alongside us during the trials.  Many a man has discovered who his true friends were when he became unable to give but could only receive.  A friend is not just a friend because you enjoy giving to them.  Even greater is that you can receive from them. 
A Friend is Valuable- Many acquaintances (friends) will cause compromise in life. Trying to maintain a non-threatening position before everyone invites compromise in life. True friends accept you as you are but challenge you to be better. The Bible says that we cannot be friends with the world and God at the same time because one will be offended. Chameleon living is the result of living for friends and trying to become whatever they want you to be in order to be accepted and when we do that, we can’t be living for God. Most of us will only have a handful of true friends in our lifetime. 
A Friend Should Never Be Forsaken– We should always help a friend in need if we can.  Not to accept help from friends when you are in need is pride.  Let others have the joy you have by receiving.  

Friends help us realize our self-worth.  We can’t be a good friend and be selfish, so it helps us to focus on others in giving and receiving.  There is a cost of commitment, caring, love, and loyalty.  Friends can have an eternal impact on our lives.  The best friends will lead us to Jesus and they will build us up, not tear us down.  Jesus is a friend that never leaves or forsakes us.  He went to Calvary for us while we were still sinners, so we can have eternal life with God.  He paid the highest price for us.  Friendships are crucial for our health, higher success, for self-improvement, for other people, and for genuine religion--true spirituality.  They are a beautiful gift from God.  Take some time today to spend with your friends, so they know what a gift they are. 

Scripture to Claim:
For one will scarcely die for a righteous person—though perhaps for a good person one would dare even to die — but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.  Romans 5:7-8

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