Bitterness: What do I do with it?

Have you ever been hurt , attacked, misused, offended, abused or falsely accused by another person?  Many of us have.  Maybe the other person has wronged us greatly, sometimes unknowingly, but many times knowingly and viciously.

What do we do?

We do not forget, do we?  It is always there.  We can train our minds not to think about it or dwell on it.  That is very much like suppressing it, pushing it down.  But does it go away? No.  It keeps surfacing.  Why?  If we had truly forgiven that person, it would not keep surfacing and coming to mind with that “hurt” feeling.

That is bitterness. It has a deep root, and we think we have it all under control and suppressed out of our mind, but then it pops up its ugly head.  In the Hebrews 12, it talks about this root of bitterness: “Looking diligently…lest a root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and by it many be defiled.”  We have to watch for this and recognize it as bitterness against another person.  Bitterness that first defiles the one holding the bitterness, and then defiles many around that person.

How does it defile?  It makes us so we cannot forgive.  It does not allow us to forgive the offense and let it go.  We get to thinking that we are justified in the feelings of hurt.  It keeps us in bondage.  Forgiveness never means that what the other person did or said  was right or acceptable.  But we have no right not to forgive.  We have been forgiven by God of all our sins and trespasses. Forgiveness means that we are willing to give up our right to hold the other person accountable, and we relinquish our right to revenge.  God says, “Vengeance is mine; I will repay.”  It is our work of faith to offer this offence up to the Lord, give it up, give it away.  It is no longer ours to own.  Then we have no right to revenge, and best of all, it cannot hurt us or keep us in bondage any longer.  The Lord takes it all.

This is surrender.  It is surrendering our will to Him, allowing Him to take care of it. Sometimes we like to feel the victim complex.  That make us feel justified that they wronged us.  Maybe they did, but forgiveness surrenders all of that.

Elizabeth Elliot said, “Anything offered up to God is a Gateway to Joy.”  Can the Lord take the “sacrifice of praise” offered up to Him, and turn it to good for us?  (Hebrews 13:15 says…”By Him (by Christ, by His forgiveness extended to us for our sin, by His grace), therefore, let us offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually, that is the fruit of our lips giving thanks to His name.”

Do I believe the sovereignty of God? Do all things work together for good?  Is it not true that the Lord allows these things in our lives to purify us, to draw us to Himself, and to make us more Christ-like?

Would I go so far to say that the Lord purposely had that person to offend us, so that we could learn what it means to forgive, to offer the offense to God, so He can deal with that person (if it was a purposefully vicious attack)?  Is his ultimate goal for us to be more like Christ?

What did Christ do?

He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.”

Remember the Lord knows and hears ALL.  Go to Him, and release all of it on Him.  Guard your heart against bitterness.  Bitterness blinds us.  It blinds our minds and our thinking.
Revenge holds us captive to internal torture, and keeps us in bondage.
It will affect how we think, how we act, what we do and say, and it will affect our health.
Literally, it will destroy us.

Surrender to the Lord all bitterness. The sovereign God knows all things, and He will deal with that person. Forgiveness releases us from bondage.  If we do not forgive, that person has a vicious hold over us, and we are in bondage. Bitterness keeps us in bondage to the person who has already hurt us.

Many times that person does not even know that we have bitterness toward them, or maybe subconsciously we want revenge (want them to hurt like we hurt), when in reality, it is only hurting us.  If we do not release the bitterness to the Lord, we are saying that we want to deal with that person, and the Lord cannot/will not deal with them “the way they need to be dealt with”.  This is a lack of faith, and in reality rebellion. We must offer that hurt up to the Lord, and He can repay to that person their due better than we ever could.  He will chose His time and place to deal with them.  Our path is to surrender to Him, and be free from bondage.

Remember also…no man lives to himself.  Our bitterness will affect others around us.  Moms …our children will be affected.  It will cloud their minds and hearts to the sweetness and grace of God in their lives.  Sometimes they will take on our bitterness, but if not it will cause anxiety and emotional distress for them.  This is evident in divorce situations that are “nasty”.

Can we ever think that our suffering is for our good and for His glory?  II Corinthians 4:17, says “For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”.

What is this “far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory”?  Becoming more Christ-like in our responses to the “light afflictions” in our life.  It is reflection the glory of the Lord to a greater degree through our suffering.  This is worth any hurt that He allows/brings into our life.  He is our “vision”.

The hymn says,

“Be Thou my Vision O Lord of my heart;

Naught be all else to me, save that Thou art;

Thou my best thought, by day or by night,

Waking or sleeping, Thy Presence my light.”

Then later lines say…

“Thou and Thou only, first in my heart;

High King of heaven, my treasure Thou art.

Heart of my own heart, whatever befall,

Still be my Vision, O Ruler of all.”

We sing this hymn, but do we truly mean “whatever befall”?  “Whatever befall” until someone says something that hurts my feelings?  This is not the response of a mature Christian.  Sometimes pride is the underlying sin.  I think I have a right not to be treated that way.  Christ had a right not to be crucified because He was righteous, but He surrendered it to the Father…”Nevertheless, not My will but Thine”.

Hebrews 12:2 says…. “Looking unto Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith, Who for the joy that was set before Him, endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.”  We can endure anything if we keep our eyes on “the Joy that is set before us”.  Endure does not mean grudgingly, or “white knuckling” it. Endure is recognizing that He is with us, always present, carrying the “easy yoke” (Matt. 11:28-29) and walking in the fiery furnace and lions den with us always.  Endure has our gaze on the face of our Savior. Endure with faith in his sovereignty, that He has His perfect will working in us, to work His will and reflect His glory.

Elisabeth Elliot put it this way… (referring to Jan 8th 1956):

“When I sat by my short wave radio and learned that my husband was missing, the Lord brought to mind what the prophet Isaiah said …

‘when thou passest through the waters I will be with thee’ “.  This thrust me, forced me, hurried me to God, my only Refuge.”

“Suffering is the irreplaceable medium

through which I learned the indispensable truth that

He is LORD.”  (E. Elliot)

Elisabeth Elliot says…”Think of your pain, trial, troubles as a challis, to be held up and offered up to the Lord, even in the midst of your suffering…stop what you are doing and offer it up as an act of worship……..anything offered up to God  becomes a gateway to joy.”

The results of all this will be:

(1) When you think of the person that hurt you, you will pity them and pray for them (Matt. 5:44), because you have truly forgiven them.  Hopefully you will come to love them.

(2) You will become numb to the “hurt” of the offense, because the bondage is gone.  You released it to the Lord. (Hebr. 13:15)

(3) You can begin to ask the Lord to bring “blessing” into that person’s life (I Peter 3:9b) every time it comes to mind.

(4) Ultimately, you will thank the Lord for the person, the hurt, and the result of that offense, bringing you closer to the Lord in your walk with Him, and the more Christ-like you have become.  You now reflect Him and His glory more than you ever could have without what the LORD brought into your life.  (II Cor. 3:18)

Congratulations, the Lord has just prepared you for your next trial and your next step of faith.  Praise Him.

The Gospel Explained

A Summary of the Gospel

Christ also suffered once for sins, the just for the unjust, that he might bring us to God. (1 Peter 3:18)

Here’s a summary of the gospel to help you understand it and enjoy it!

1) God created us for his glory.

“Bring my sons from afar and my daughters from the end of the earth, everyone who is called by my name, whom I created for my glory” (Isaiah 43:6–7). God made all of us in his own image so that we would image forth, or reflect, his character and moral beauty.

2) Every human should live for God’s glory.

“Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The way to live for the glory of God is to love him (Matthew 22:37), trust him (Romans 4:20), be thankful to him (Psalm 50:23), and obey him (Matthew 5:16). When we do these things, we image forth God’s glory.

3) We have all sinned and fallen short of God’s glory.

“All have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). “Although they knew God, they did not honor him as God or give thanks to him . . . and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images” (Romans 1:21, 23). None of us has loved or trusted or thanked or obeyed God as we ought.

4) We all deserve eternal punishment.

“The wages of sin (the payment for our sin)  is (eternal) death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23). Those who do not trust the Lord Jesus Christ “will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction, away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might” (2 Thessalonians 1:9). “These will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life” (Matthew 25:46).

5) In his great mercy, God sent forth his only Son Jesus Christ to provide for sinners the payment for our sin, in our place when Jesus died on the cross.

“God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us” (Galatians 3:13). “Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God” (1 Peter 3:18).

6) Eternal life is a free gift to all who will trust in Christ as Savior.

“Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved” (Acts 16:31). “If you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved” (Romans 10:9). “By grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast” (Ephesians 2:8–9).

7) Once we accept Christ as our own personal Savior, He will holds onto us.

John 10: 28 “I give unto them eternal life, and they shall never perish, neither shall any man pluck them out of my hand.”  I Peter 1:5 says that we have an inheritance “reserved in heaven for you who are kept by the power of God…”

8) As we choose to walk with Him in our daily lives out of love and gratitude to Him for who He is, He becomes Lord of our life, and we have a personal walk with the living God.

“I have been crucified with Christ.  It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me. And the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Galatians 2:20).

May this be a blessing to you.

Five Ways Afflictions Help

“Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I keep your word.” (Psalm 119:67)

This verse shows that God sends affliction to help us learn His Word. How does that work? How does affliction help us learn and obey the word of God?

There are innumerable answers, as there are innumerable experiences of this great mercy. But here are five:

  1. Affliction takes away the glibness of life and makes us more serious, so that our mindset is more in tune with the seriousness of God’s word. And mark this: There is not a single glib page in the book of God.
  2. Affliction knocks worldly props out from under us and forces us to rely more on God, which brings us more in tune with the aim of the Word.  For the aim of the Word is that we hope in God and trust him. “Whatever was written in former days was written for our instruction, that through endurance and through the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4). “These [things] are written so that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31).
  3. Affliction makes us search the Scriptures with greater desperation for help, rather than treating it as marginal to life. “You will seek me and find me, when you seek me with all your heart” (Jeremiah 29:13).
  4. Affliction brings us into the partnership of Christ’s sufferings, so that we fellowship more closely with him and see the world more readily through His eyes. Paul’s great heart longing was “that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship (may share) of His sufferings, being made conformable (becoming more like Him) in his death” (Philippians 3:10).
  5. Affliction mortifies deceitful and distracting fleshly desires, and so brings us into a more spiritual frame and makes us receptive to the spiritual Word of God. “Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin” (1 Peter 4:1). Suffering has a great sin-killing effect. And the more pure we are, the more clearly we see God (Matthew 5:8). {copied in part}

May the Holy Spirit give us grace to not begrudge the teaching of God through pain, affliction and suffering.  His grace is sufficient. (11 Corinthians 12:9) He is faithful…always. (1 Thess. 5:24; 11 Thes. 3:3;  Phil. 1:6)  He says in Jeremiah 31:13b, 14, and 25 that He will saturate the soul of the weary and sorrowful with His Goodness.  Truly, having the Awesome Lord that we serve saturate our soul …literally with Himself in His Goodness…is an amazing experience.  That means for us who have suffered in life’s trials…maybe through no fault of our own, but just as life brings them to us, we can know in our soul the everlasting, awesome Goodness of God. (This is assuming that we know Him as personal Savior, and accepted Him as the payment for our sins on the cross.  If you need to understand that Bible truth, go to the home page, and click on “Where will I spend Eternity?” God not only wants to be your Father and Savior, but He will walk with you through your afflictions. May He Bless you.)

Suffering….

Does suffering ever make sense?

I have never really suffered….. I have never been imprisoned for my faith, or been submitted to physical torture.  I have never been called upon to watch my children tortured and put to death in my presence. My brothers and sisters in Christ in other countries of the world have suffered much.  Elizabeth Elliot says that if we think about suffering, there is only one “place” that suffering really makes sense.  It is at the foot of the cross….!  Suffering there had a purpose; it had meaning.  Jesus suffered there for the purpose of providing salvation for every person who ever lived.  Every sinful soul can be redeemed from the penalty of their sin.  Jesus suffered for us, dying in our place….and paid for our sin.

When I think I have suffered because of the loss of a loved one, loss of meaning in life, loss of security, or what ever it is that I think is causing my suffering…if I take that to the foot of the cross of Jesus Christ, lay it there, and look up….I only see suffering like no other.  My “suffering” pales in comparison to the depth and magnitude of the suffering that He knew there in my place for me.  It puts my suffering in perspective.  It shows me that He understands, He knows, and He feels all that I am feeling, and more.

Christ’s suffering had a purpose.  Can I trust the same God to make sense out of my suffering? I do not have to understand what He is doing to trust Him. I only have to understand Calvary.

My prayer is this:

Lord, may I continually, consciously…. take all sorrow and grief to the foot of the cross…which is the only place where suffering makes sense.  At that moment, each memory, thought, feeling, hurt… offered up to Christ there, becomes an opportunity to be a recipient of Your grace…all sufficient…and You become enough….You are enough (“El-Shaddia”…the all sufficient One).  By Your grace….You are enough.

The Character of our Great God.

The Promises of the Lord in scripture reflect His character

“Praise God from whom all Blessings flow….”

Everlasting Love – Jere. 31:3

Everlasting joy – Isa.35:10; 51:11; 61:7

Everlasting salvation – Isa.45:17

Everlasting strength – Isa.26:4

Everlasting kindness – Isa.54:8

Life everlasting – Gal.6:8

In the shadow of His wings – Psalm 63:7

Everlasting arms under us – Deut.33:17

Our refuge and fortress – Psalm 91:2

Rock that is higher than I – Psalm 61:2

His presence – Psalm 23: 4

We are called by Him – Isa.54:5,6

He carries our sorrows, bears our grief – Isa.53:3,4

Poured out His soul for me – Isa.53:12

He is our Husband – Isa.54:5

He sustains us – Psalm 55:22

He heals the broken hearted – Psalm 147:3

Infinite understanding – Psalm 147:5

He is near to us – Psalm 34:18

He is with us – Isa. 43:2,5

He claims me; I am His – Isa. 43:1

I am precious in His sight – Isa. 43:4

Our soul and breath in His hand – Job 12:10

His soul delights in me – Isa. 42:1; Psalm 16:3

His stretched out hand to us – Isa. 9:12m

Our name is in the book of life – Phil. 4:3; Rev. 21:27

We are given a new name – Isa.62:2; Rev.2:17; 22:4

We are a crown to Him – Isa.62:3

Rejoices over us as our bridegroom – Isa. 62:5

Our soul is joyful in God – Isa. 61:10

He is our potter; we are the clay – Isa.64:8

He is full of compassion – Psalm 145:8; Lamentations 3:22

He gives power to the faint – Isa. 40:29

He has chosen us – Isa. 41:9

He changes NOT – Malachi 3:6

 

 

 

He upholds the righteous – Psalm 37:17

New song in my mouth – Psalm 40:3

He holds my right hand – Isa. 41:13; Isa. 42:6

He thinks about me; the thoughts are many – Psalm 139:17,18

He will give me a heart to know Him – Jere. 24:6,7

He made us heirs with Christ – Romans 8:17

He adopted us into His family with full privileges – Rom. 8:15

He comforts us – John 14:16,26

His Spirit bears witness (testifies) to us – Rom. 8:16

His Spirit cooperates (helps) in our weaknesses – Rom.8:26

He sealed us for all eternity – Ephes. 1:13,14

He guides us into all truth – John 16:13

Christ prayed that we would have His joy fulfilled in us – John 17:13

Christ prayed we would behold (perceive, discern) His glory – John 17:24

He is preparing a mansion and crowns for us – John 14:6; 1 Thes. 2:19

We will reign with Christ – Rev. 20:6

We can walk with Him in fellowship – I John 1:5-10

We can know His power in our life – Phil. 3:10

We have a righteousness of God by faith – Phil. 3:9

We are found in Him – Phil. 3:9

Christ is in us – Colos. 1:27

Our life is hidden with Christ in God, and we will appear with him –

Colos. 3:3,4