The Sin That Springs Up

Bitterness is a terrible sin that afflicts many people. It is the type of sin that seems to  spring up, although in reality it has long lain dormant in our lives. No one grows up wanting to be a bitter old man or a bitter old lady and yet so many people in today’s society are bitter. Teenagers, young adults, senior citizens, both inside and outside of Christendom can become bitter. Warnings in Scripture abound about this insidious sin:

 Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32

Pursue peace with all men, and the sanctification without which no one will see the Lord.  See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God; that no root of bitterness springing up causes trouble, and by it many be defiled; Hebrews 12:14-15

Sometimes guilt is confused with bitterness. Guilt is what we feel when we sin. Bitterness is what we feel when others sin against us. Bitterness is almost always based on someone else’s sin against us, whether that sin was real or imaginary. What do I mean by this? Imaginary sin is when we think someone said or did something against us that they really didn’t do. We get bitter waiting over an apology that will never come because we only thought we were harmed.

Some sins against us are real. Bitterness is not concerned with how big the sin is, it is based on how close it is to you. It does not depend on how great the evil was, it depends on how close the offending person was to you. Bitterness is directly related to those people we are (or were) closest to.

Hebrews 12:15 describes bitterness as a root. Roots are mainly underground. They are rarely seen. The effects of roots though, that can be readily seen. They break up sidewalks, roads, water pipes. They extend deep into the ground and spread out over a wide area. Roots drink in nourishment and eventually a sprout comes up above ground. Later a plant grows and bears fruits or seeds.

The fruit that is born bears a direct relationship to the root producing it. Apple seeds grow apple tree roots that support apple trees which bear apples. A bitter root in your heart will grow deep and wide, supporting, sprouting and producing bitter fruit. We are told that bitterness defiles many people. That word for defile means to make people filthy. Bitterness spreads like a wildfire, consuming families, workplaces, churches and classes of people. The Bible says we have to get rid of it. Why? Because bitterness, is not only defiling and hurtful, it is also unspiritual – straight from the devil. James 3:14-15 says:  But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. If not gotten rid of quickly, bitterness will result in evil practices which will defile both you and those around you.

Before you can get rid of bitterness, you must recognize it. How can you tell if you have a root of bitterness in you, waiting to spring up? Bitterness remembers details. You have thousands of conversations in your lifetime. How many of them do you remember in detail, word for word? Not only the words, but the intonation, inflection, gestures and facial expressions of the other party? Most of the ones we recall are those we feel sinned against by. Memory is helped by review, review, review. A constant reviewing of slights, real or imagined, leads to bitterness. I see this over and over in divorce counseling and family counseling. Conversations from years back are replayed in great detail when a party is hurt but positive conversations are fuzzy in the related details.

In order to get rid of bitterness we have to recognize, admit, and confess we have a problem. And the problem is with us – not the other party. Many times, I hear people say, “I’m not bitter. I just get my feelings hurt easily.” Really? Oversensitivity leads to resentment which turns to bitterness very quickly if not dealt with. You see, bitterness is just resentment that has been held on to. It is resentment that has festered and rotted.

We must recognize how insidious bitterness is. How evil it is. Bitterness always wants to blame the other person, the one who has hurt us. We don’t deal with the sin of bitterness so long as we think continue to think it is the others person’s sin. “When he quits lying” or “When she stops doing this” or “When they apologize to me for…” What if the other person never stops, never apologizes, never even recognizes that they have hurt you? Are you going to be resentful and bitter forever? A Christian cannot. He or she must forgive others even as Christ forgave us for sinning against Him.

When bitterness takes root even an apology will not get rid of it. Bitterness is always the sin of the bitter person alone, unrelated to anyone else. You and you alone choose to remain angry at another and withhold forgiveness. Christ went to the cross for us before we repented of any sin. We were unworthy and undeserving of this kindness and we are to show that type of grace and mercy to others.

In order to eradicate bitterness from my life I have to see that it is evil, satanic and that it is my sin and my sin alone. I do not get rid of it through the other person apologizing. I do not get rid of it if the other person stops their actions or if they die. I do not get rid of it any other way except calling it a sin against a holy God, confessing it and receiving His forgiveness.

If this is not done, bitterness will devastate you spiritually. If you have unresolved bitterness in your life then you are not right with God. You are not walking according to His Spirit but according to your flesh. It will devastate those closest to you. It will infect family, friends and your brothers and sisters in the church.

In Galatians chapter 5 the fruit of the Spirit is listed. Such things as love, joy, peace, patience, gentleness, and godliness are mentioned. When you are bitter towards someone you withhold love and you don’t feel joy around them. You are in turmoil, no peace. You are not patient with them nor are you gentle with them. You are not walking in the Spirit. Galatians goes on to say we reap what we sow. Bitterness halts spiritual growth altogether.  Remember, if you are not walking in the Spirit then you are not growing in the Spirit either.

Bitterness also destroys you emotionally. Bitterness will lead to discouragement and paranoia. You develop a victim mentality, believing that person is always out to get you. Eventually you may believe that about everyone else as well. You become negative, critical of others, always finding some fault even when they do something well. You become judgmental of their motives and secretly wish them ill, hoping they fail at whatever they try to do.

After admitting our bitterness, confessing it to God and asking His forgiveness, we need to pray for others. Not about them, but for them. To pray that God draws them close to Himself and they become great instruments for Him to use. Think of those people you don’t get along with, those you don’t particularly care for. Can you pray this for them? If not, check your heart. You might have a root of bitterness lurking, waiting to spring up.

 

A Foundational Truth

Foundational Truths

Many times, whenever I preach or write on various subjects, someone will invariably say, “why don’t you just preach Jesus? No Old Testament stuff, just preach Jesus.” My answer to them? No one can know Jesus Christ as He really is if you only know Him as the Redeemer of the New Testament. We must preach Jesus as He truly is – all of Him – or we preach another Jesus than the Bible speaks of.

Jesus was Creator before He became Redeemer or Savior. He became our Savior dying on the cross and rising from the grave on the third day because of mankind’s sin. Much, if not all, of that sin is mankind’s rejection of God’s Word, the denial of Him being the Creator. One truly “preaches Christ” when he first of all preaches Him as Creator.

The great message of Christianity is that the just shall live by faith, speaking of them that believe, to the saving of the soul. But what is this saving, living faith? The faith of which Hebrews speaks of is outlined in chapter 11. It is the faith of Abel, offering an acceptable sacrifice. It is Enoch’s faith, pleasing God in obedience. It is Noah’s faith, believing and acting on God’s Word. It is the faith of Abraham, stepping out on God’s promises. But, first of all, it is foundational faith. It is the faith by which “we understand that the worlds were framed by the Word of God so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear”, Hebrews 11:3.

Any meaningful faith for salvation must be founded on God’s special creation of all things. The saving gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is founded on creation. The very last reference to the gospel in the Bible is found in Revelation 14: 6-7: “And I saw another angel fly in the midst of heaven, having the everlasting gospel to preach unto them that dwell on the earth, and to every nation, and kindred, and tongue, and people,  Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgment is come: and worship him that made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and the fountains of waters.”

The angel has the everlasting gospel and its message is for people to worship the One who made heaven and earth and the sea and the fountains of water. The gospel is much more than the cross and the resurrection, it also includes the coming kingdom and God’s great creation. Without creation, the gospel has no foundation and no logical end. The gospel is the good news that Jesus came to save who? Those who were made in God’s image on the earth and who are now marred by sin. What is the end purpose? So that mankind will live with God and enjoy Him forever in His Kingdom. Death first entered God’s finished creation when Adam sinned. Now that Christ is risen, the last enemy that shall be destroyed is death.

In 1 Corinthians 15, Paul is seeking to assure young Christians at Corinth of the validity of the gospel. He preached to them that which they had believed. In verses 3-11 Paul stresses the witnesses to the resurrection of Jesus. In verses 12-19, Paul says, because Jesus rose from the grave it guarantees a future resurrection to all who have hope in Christ. But then, Paul goes further, In verses 20-28 he says that Jesus’ resurrection restores man’s lost estate, reverses the consequences of Adam’s sin, conquers all enemies of God and destroys death itself. In verses 29-34 Paul says this promise not only gives assurance of eternal life, but strength for godly living and triumph over persecutions and opposition. And then, in verses 35-49, Paul ties it all back to creation.

Everything is tied back to creation. Biological, physical, human – all aspects are discussed. Every individual creation of God has been designed with its own marvelous structure for its own divine purpose, as it pleased God to make it like He did. Since each individual creation is distinct it could not have “evolved” from any other.

I am so amazed at so-called Christians who accept as fact Christ’s resurrection from the dead but not the Genesis record of creation in 6 days. Jesus said, “from the beginning of creation God made them male and female,” speaking of mankind. Not after 18 billion years of cosmic history or 4 ½ billion years of earth’s evolution but on day 6.

Psalm 115:16 tells us the very purpose of earth’s creation was that it should be a home for the children of men. A person cannot believe Christ’s words and reject Moses’. Listen to Jesus in John 5:46-47, “For had you believed Moses, you would have believed Me, because He wrote of Me. But if you believe not his writings, how will you believe My words?” In the book of Revelation, Jesus says, “I am the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end.”

The Apostle Peter, not too long before his martyrdom, wrote a remarkably prophetic passage about the 19th, 20th and 21st centuries. Listen to the words of 2 Peter 3:3-6,

Knowing this first, that there shall come in the last days scoffers walking after their own lusts saying, “Where is the promise of His coming? Since the fathers fell asleep all things glorifying God continue as they are from the beginning of creation.” For this they willingly are ignorant of – that by the Word of God the heavens were of old and the earth standing out and in the water; whereby the world that was then being overflowed by water perished.”

Scoffers arise, those who dismiss the Bible as fairy tales or myths, denying special creation. They replace sudden, special creation by God with uniformity and evolution. They willingly deny a universal flood. Anotherwords, they will deny the Genesis account of creation and the flood and in doing so deny the truth of John 1:3, 1:10 and Hebrews 1:2 which state that God created the world through Jesus Christ.

Creation is a non-negotiable doctrine. What a person believes about creation, about the origins of the earth and mankind, will influence what they believe about the meaning and purpose of life. So many of the great founding fathers of science knew this. Kepler, Galileo, Pascal, Newton, Boyle, Breuster, Faraday, Kelvin and others believed that they were glorifying God as they probed and discovered His marvelous works.

Understand this, belief in the Genesis account of creation is necessary for a correct understanding of who Jesus is as the Bible presents Him. To believe in another Jesus, one who did not create the world in 6 days, one who did not create man in His image, one who is not Lord over creation because you believe He was not the Creator, is to send yourself to hell.

Salvation is found in the Jesus of Holy Scripture, not the Jesus of one’s imagination. Salvation is found in believing in Jesus as He is presented in the Bible, not as we wish He was presented. He is either the Creator Lord or He isn’t. You cannot straddle the fence on this issue. The New Testament simply will not allow it. From the Gospels to the letters of Peter, Paul, and John, Jesus is clearly presented as the Creator Lord.

At the beginning, I said that many times I am asked, “Why don’t you just preach Jesus?” I do. I do preach Jesus. I preach Him creating the world in Genesis as part of the Godhead. I preach Him throughout the Old Testament sustaining the world He created. I preach Him in the New Testament redeeming the world He created. I preach Him in Revelation coming back to claim the world He created. What Jesus are you preaching?

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 32 – Master, The Tempest Is Raging

DAY 32 – MASTER, THE TEMPEST IS RAGING

 

Straight out of the gospels comes this stirring hymn. One can feel the terror of the disciples on their boat at night, being swamped by a massive storm that threatened their lives. They are incredulous that Jesus is sleeping through it all and in fright accuse Him of not caring. How they quaked with fear when He commanded the storm to cease. They were far more afraid of Him than the storm at the conclusion of the story.

The writer then moves us from physical storms to emotional storms in verse two. There are times when grief threatens to overwhelm our life like waves over a boat. We feel helpless to stop the pain. We have no answers. We spiral downward, into despair, disillusionment and depression. How we even accuse God of not caring for us in those moments. Like Job’s wife, we sometimes want to curse God and die to escape the pain. How wonderful that Jesus can still those storms too. How marvelous that He can bring peace even in the middle of horrible circumstances.

Then, when the storm passes, as they always do, we see just how awesome He is. We realize what we have learned of Him, that He does care. We learn that we need Him always, that He is mighty to save. It doesn’t matter whether the threat is natural or supernatural. It doesn’t matter if we are battling the elements or ourselves, God is in control and powerful to save. All we need to do is cry out in faith to Him, trusting in His inherent goodness.

 

Lord, thank You for being a good God. A God who cares. A God who can and does save. Help us to trust in You no matter the circumstances we find ourselves in. You alone are powerful and mighty to save.

MASTER, THE TEMPEST IS RAGING – Mary Baker

 

Master, the tempest is raging, the billows are tossing high

The sky is overshadowed with blackness

No shelter of haven is nigh

Carest Thou not that we perish?

How canst Thou lie asleep

When each moment so madly is threatening

A grave in the angry deep?

 

Master, with anguish of spirit, I bow in my grief today

The depths of my sad heart are troubled

O waken and save, I pray!

Torrents of sin and of anguish

Sweep o’er my sinking soul

And I perish! I perish dear Master

O hasten and take control

 

Master, the terror is over, the elements sweetly rest

Earth’s sun in the calm lake is mirrored

And heaven’s within my breast

Linger, O blessed Redeemer

Leave me alone no more

And with joy I shall make the blest harbor

And rest on the blissful shore

 

REFRAIN:

 

The winds and the waves shall obey Thy will, Peace be still!

Whether the wrath of the storm tossed sea

Or demons or men, or whatever it be

No water can swallow the ship where lies

The Master of ocean and earth and skies

They all shall sweetly obey Thy will

Peace be still! Peace be still!

They all shall sweetly obey Thy will

Peace, peace be still!

 

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 30 – Take My Hand Precious Lord

DAY 30 – TAKE MY HAND, PRECIOUS LORD

 

Many hymns were written out of tragedies, and this one was no exception. Thomas Dorsey was a fantastic musician and song writer who was devastated when his wife died giving birth to their child, who also later died. Filled with despair, he lost faith in God being a good and caring God. Deep in his grief, God reached out to him one as he sat at a friend’s house, overshadowing him with peace and filling his heart with love. Immediately he started playing a melody and these words welled up from inside him.

We can all empathize with him at times in our life. Few us there are who have not been touched with death or tragedy. Few of us there are who have not known despair at the circumstances we find ourselves in. Like the disciples on the boat in the storm, we have a feeling that any moment life is going to drown us. Thankfully, God is in control. He does have a plan, and it is a good one because He is good.

We can, like Peter found out, grab hold of His hand when we are in danger of drowning and He can lift us up to walk above the storms of life. He is all we need. When He is all there is we find Him to be more than sufficient, more than enough. He is God. All-knowing. All-caring. All-powerful. All-wise. All-good. He is God.

When we are overwhelmed we need to simply cry out to Him, “Lord, take my hand.” He will. He will lead us to Himself, where we will find rest for our burdened souls. “Come to Me” is His invitation. He will never turn us away.

 

Lord, take my hand today. Lead me to You. I do not know what today entails for my life, but You do. I can easily lose sight of You, lose perspective, lose hope. Keep me in Your hand, so that I am not overwhelmed by life, but so I can rest in You. Amen.

 

TAKE MY HAND, PRECIOUS LORD – Thomas Dorsey

 

Precious Lord, take my hand

Lead me on, let me stand

I am tired

I am weak

I am worn

Through the storm

Through the night

Lead me on to the light

Take my hand, precious Lord

Lead me home

 

When my way grows drear

Precious Lord, linger near

When my life is almost gone

Hear my cry

Hear my call

Hold my hand

Lest I fall

Take my hand, precious Lord

Lead me home

 

When the darkness appears

And the night draws near

And the day is past and gone

At the river I stand

Guide my feet

Hold my hand

Take my hand, precious Lord

Lead me home

 

 

 

 

 

 

Hymn Devotions Day 7 – Standing on the Promises

DAY 7  – STANDING ON THE PROMISES

The second verse of this hymn strikes me profoundly. God’s promises cannot fail. The omnipotent, all-knowing Creator God is able to keep every promise He makes. He is trustworthy, He is true. Whenever the storms of doubt and fear howl at me, whenever I am assailed by the knowledge of my own inadequacy, I can stand on God’s promises because He never fails.

There are over 3,000 promises in the Bible. 2 Peter 1:3-4 says this about those precious promises:

“God’s divine power has granted to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us to His own glory and excellence, by which He has granted to us His precious and very great promises so that through them you may become partakers of His divine nature”

Oh, what a great passage. God gave us these promises of His so that we can partake of His divine nature. He gave them to us so we can live a godly life through our relationship with His perfect Son!

Truly, I am bound to Him eternally and can overcome each day the doubts and fears Satan throws at me by using the Spirit’s Sword, the Holy Word of God. I will resolve to know these promises and to stand on Him. Will you?

 

Lord, help me to study Your Word and find your promises. Help me to hide Your Word in my heart so I will live a godly life and not sin against you. Help me to stand on Your Word.   Amen.

 

STANDING ON THE PROMISES by R. Kelso Carter

 

Standing on the promises of Christ my king

Through eternal ages let His praises ring

Glory in the highest I will shout and sing

Standing on the promises of God

 

Standing on the promises that cannot fail

When the howling storms of doubt and fear assail

By the living Word of God I shall prevail

Standing on the promises of God

 

Standing on the promises I now can see

Perfect present cleansing in the blood for me

Standing in the liberty where Christ makes free

Standing on the promises of God

 

Standing on the promises of Christ, the Lord

Bound to Him eternally by love’s strong cord

Overcoming daily by the Spirit’s sword

Standing on the promises of God

 

Standing on the promises I cannot fall

Listening every moment to the Spirit’s call

Resting in my Savior as my all in all

Standing on the promises of God

 

REFRAIN

 

Standing, standing, standing on the promises of God my Savior

Standing, standing, I’m standing on the promises of God