Friday, May 30, 2008
I am so thankful that You have redeemed me.
I totally understand that I was not worthy
I am completely aware of what You have done for me, in saving my soul and redeeming my life.
My desire is to live this life for You!
My desire is to help others to understand Your grace and mercy.
My desire is to share the truth of Your Word with others.
I love your sovereignty!
Sometimes I struggle understanding, but I want to accept it.
It is wonderful to be able to rest in it.
I trust You Lord-
When the way is dark and the path is blocked
When I cannot see to put one foot in front of the other
When I am frightened, no terrified of what the next step will bring
I am so grateful that You are trustworthy!
You are so good Lord!
Good does not even begin to describe who You are.
Words fail me as I think of Your grace and mercy.
My Spirit soars as I meditate on Your holiness!
Be glorified Lord!
Be glorified in the heavens and on the earth!
Let all Your creation worship You!
Let all creation bow before the King!
Thursday, May 29, 2008
How much of what happens in our lives to we chalk up to God’s mercy? How much of what happens do we attribute to luck, good fortune, blessings, karma or rubbing a lucky rabbit’s foot? Amy Grant has an old song about angels watching over us, could that be it? Are we just so spiritual now that what happens to us (or what doesn’t happen) is a result of our attaining some spiritual plane that has put us above all the rest of our friends and family?
Hardly… I can honestly say I don’t know anyone who believes that have arrived spiritually. But to what do we credit the things that occur in our daily lives? Why does God help us?
The Bible says
- Our soul waits for the LORD; He is our help and our shield. Psalm 33:20
- God is our refuge and strength, A very present help in trouble. Psalm 46:1
- O give us help against the adversary, For deliverance by man is in vain. Psalm 60:11
- For he will deliver the needy when he cries for help, The afflicted also, and him who has no helper. Psalm 72:12
- If the LORD had not been my help, My soul would soon have dwelt in the abode of silence. Psalm 94:17
- Help me, O LORD my God; Save me according to Your loving kindness. Psalm 109:26
- Therefore let us draw near with confidence to the throne of grace, so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need. Hebrews 4:16
- …so these also now have been disobedient, that because of the mercy shown to you they also may now be shown mercy. Romans 11:31
- …and for the Gentiles to glorify God for His mercy; as it is written, “Therefore I will give praise to You among the Gentiles, And I will sing to Your name.” Romans 15:9
- But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us… so that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus. Ephesians 2:4-7
Are you getting the idea? We were not shown mercy and given help because we were so good, but because we were so evil. God did not add His goodness to ours and make us better; He added His goodness to our sinfulness and made us clean. He did for us what we could not do for ourselves.
God helps us and shows us mercy because it glorifies Himself. May He be forever glorified on earth and in the heavens!
Wednesday, May 28, 2008
Many questions have been asked by those who think I am promoting a feeling-less life with these last few entries. Let me be clear, I am not speaking of living life void of feelings and emotions. Both our feelings and emotions are wonderful gifts from God! They bring color and richness to our lives the way nothing else can.
Feelings and emotions are not the problem, what we do with them is the problem. We tend to allow our feelings and emotions to dictate the course of our lives, and we rely on them to make major life decisions for us. We place our feelings in a place of pre-eminence and lordship that subjugates everything else to them.
This is backwards from God’s holy order. God is to be pre-eminent and He is Lord. His order is that our feelings and emotions be subject to the authority of the Word and that they be filtered through the Holy Spirit.
“But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you. John 14:26
His job is to be our divine helper and our Counselor. He will guide us into right thinking and renew our minds from ones that operate on a feeling level to a mind that thinks, believes and desires to glorify God in all respects. A desire to glorify God is in and of itself an act of worship, it is placing Him where He rightfully belongs in our lives- at the forefront.
“…true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers. “God is spirit, and those who worship Him must worship in spirit and truth.” John 4:23-24
Notice the Bible does not say to worship Him in your feelings. The Spirit, not emotions is to guide us in both truth and worship of God.
So, how actually does a person submit those emotions and feelings to the Holy Spirit? Well, there is no 3-step process, no magic formula to doing so. It is a matter of faith and belief. The same Spirit who has brought you to saving faith in Jesus Christ will help you to believe that He can be trusted more than your feelings. God is faithful!
Tuesday, May 27, 2008
You must apply the same standards to the Word of God for building your faith. There are some difficult doctrines to understand and even to accept such as sovereignty and some that you may not like at all (predestination, submission) but your feelings about them are not to guide you. You must exercise your belief system and by faith (which does not always feel good) determine to believe they are truth by virtue of being found in His Word.
Monday, May 26, 2008
I recently read a devotional by Oswald Chambers on having no habits and it got me to thinking. Habits are things we do often enough that they become something we appear to do without thinking. The habit may start out as something we enjoy like gardening, or as something we realize we must do like exercising. Eventually this activity becomes a part of our normal routine and we no longer think about not doing it. As frightening as this may be, my drive to church has become a habit. I have done it so many times that I just know where to turn and don’t even have to think about it any more.
A woman once told me that rather than going to Jesus with her troubles, she ran to the cupboard and found her comfort and solace in food when she was upset. When she first began this behavior she was aware of it but over time it became an automatic behavior for her, a way of life, or a habit. Her habit caused her to gain over 60 pounds! Through our discipleship time she learned that this automatic behavior was really idolatry. She learned that she was worshiping her feelings and soothing them with food. It all goes back to what we worship.
Many of us have “daily devotions” during which we take our Bibles and prayer lists and have time alone with the Lord. Bible study may be a habit also. These are good spiritual habits. If only we would apply the same diligence in cultivating good spiritual habits that we do in practicing poor ones!
Some of our spiritual habits are not so good. Watching too much television, overeating, swearing, or over-spending our budget are habits we would do well to stop. Often these habits have replaced our time in prayer, in the Word of God, and studying. The reason they are spiritual habits is because in some cases they become objects of worship for us, displacing God as our Lord.
A problem I often see even with good spiritual habits is that they become drudgery rather than joy for us. We decide we have to have our “quiet time” and it becomes a Law unto itself. The same can happen with prayer and study time. It loses its joy and spontaneity and becomes an idol of a different kind.
Oswald Chambers said this, “Your god may be your little Christian habit—the habit of prayer or Bible reading at certain times of your day. Watch how your Father will upset your schedule if you begin to worship your habit instead of what the habit symbolizes. We say, “I can’t do that right now; this is my time alone with God.” No, this is your time alone with your habit.”
I found this to be a very refreshing perspective on such things. There have been many times I have determined to set aside a specific hour of the day for God in reading or praying and before long I found little interest in this time and things continually got in the way of this time with God. Chambers says this is because we develop a sense of pride about our habit and it ceases to be about Him and becomes about us.
God does not want your rituals, He wants your heart! His desire is that you and I come to Him with a yearning, a longing to spend time in His presence. He wants us to love Him and to look forward to the time we will spend with him as a young woman in love desires her lover.
Then and only then will we cease to have a habit and begin to have a functioning relationship with Jesus. We will desire the changes He wants to make in our hearts because they are a love response to His life in us. Chambers again, “Love means that there are no visible habits—that your habits are so immersed in the Lord that you practice them without realizing it.”
I urge you today; make it less about Law and more about relationship! Love Him!
Friday, May 23, 2008
A recent edition of an online magazine I receive contained a question for John Macarthur having to do with being unequally yoked. The question in a nut shell was this: What does it mean to be unequally yoked and what type of a guideline should I have if it is okay for me to have a business partnership with a non-believer?
In 2 Corinthians 6:14, Paul says, “Do not be bound together with unbelievers…” The issue here is linking up with an unbeliever, side by side, under the same yoke, pulling the same furrow, in the same direction, with the same goals and objectives. Now, that might mean a marriage or a partnership in a common business — if it is likely that the nature of your partnership will lead to compromising situations down the road when your worldviews collide.
There is no doubt whatsoever that being in any relationship with an unbeliever is stressful and difficult. The personal interactions may be hard to deal with on their face, and we also have to learn to respond graciously to the sinful attacks from the unbeliever.
It just seems easier to get out of a situation which feels impossible and miserable. Our job is to learn to live within the relationship in a way that is joyful and satisfying and most importantly gives glory to God. It is possible to be fulfilled and joyful in this life, even if you are married to an unbeliever. Life becomes about God in every sense and the unbeliever reaps the benefits of it.
We have to learn how to live with them. We are the aliens here; we are visitors in this land. The believer must learn how to live with this person again, sometimes under a whole new paradigm. The saved person must pray that they would be a godly influence and that their actions and attitudes would play a part in softening the heart of the unbeliever, that they might be used to bring them to full faith in Jesus Christ.
In a marriage situation I am assuming that the unbelieving spouse is not trying to make the believers life a living hell. Sadly, we get cases where the spouse intends to be mean and nasty. He or she is intentionally cruel and demeaning to the believer. They may have behaviors that involve going to bars, drunkenness, drug use, immorality and the deceit that goes along with these lifestyles. There have often been cases of acting as though the other person does not exist.
Unsaved coworkers or classmates may intentionally be cruel to the believer, subjecting them to gossip and malicious treatment and an unbearable working environment. How is the believer to react in such circumstances? After a period of time, there seems to be no ability to continue to bear up under the strain.
You cannot justifiably say that God does not want you to live like that. God is sovereign and He is allowing you to be in this situation. Before concluding that “God’s will” is that you get out I would seek wise counsel.
The answer to the questions of how do we live can only be found in the Bible. All other answers are subjective and based on our own thoughts, feelings and desires. They are humanistic and bend to our own selfish wants. I really hate to have to tell a woman that she can’t divorce her husband because he is ornery, or difficult. It doesn’t feel good to tell a teenage girl that she must still honor and act respectfully toward her unsaved family members who now treat her badly because she is a Christian. If I were to tell these women what I feel like telling them my counsel would be based only on my own desires not on His Word.
A few realistic expectations and suggestions for being in any relationship with unbelievers:
DO expect problems. Even two believers will tell you that there are problems in a relationship of any kind. Differing personalities, likes and dislikes outside of the spiritual realm will cause even the equally yoked to have problems. Much more so people that are on different spiritual planes.
DO be consistent in how you deal with those unbelieving people in your life. You want to preserve as much harmony as possible in your relationships.
DO be loyal- it is never good in any relationship to be disloyal. You cannot expect the unbeliever to want to come to Christ if you are worming around behind his or her back talking about how bad they are, criticizing them, and belittling them for their lack of faith. You cannot expect an unbeliever to act like anything other than an unbeliever.
DO be respectful toward him or her. Just because they don’t have a saving faith in Christ does not make them a devil worshipper in practice. They are still worthy of your respect. Even if they are not believers!
DO draw your security and strength from God. You will need all the strength and wisdom you can glean as you continue this relationship.
DO find mutual entertainment and recreation. There are many things that you can enjoy together outside of church. And while the believer may get very different things out of a nature walk than an unbeliever you can still participate together.
DO be prayerful- the greatest thing you can do for your unbelieving loved one is to pray for them. Pray that they will come to Christ, they will be won over by your godly behavior, by your example, and pray that God would be merciful to them.
DON’T- flaunt your spirituality. The last thing your marriage needs is you to be super Christian. You were once an unwashed sinner just like they are now. You have not arrived, you are nothing more than a sinner saved by grace. This is good advice when dealing with anyone not just an unsaved spouse.
DON’T- make everything a major issue. Not every situation requires a doctrinal dissertation. It is ok just to disagree but go along providing you are not being asked to sin.
DON’T play God or the Holy Spirit because you are not!
Thursday, May 22, 2008
Do not be unequally yoked together with unbelievers. For what fellowship has righteousness with lawlessness? And what communion has light with darkness? And what accord has Christ with Belial? Or what part has a believer with an unbeliever? And what agreement has the
I am occasionally presented with cases in which there are believers in relationships of all kinds with unbelievers. It could be marriage, a working relationship, a friend or neighbor.
In a marriage relationship, the usual presentation is that one party has come to Christ in the course of the marriage and the other has not. I do occasionally get a situation where a woman has willingly and knowingly married an unbeliever. I have also been involved with cases where one person in the marriage has made a false profession of faith and married a believer.
None of these cases is the ideal. These marriages are typically difficult and tumultuous for both parties. If there are children involved the difficulties are magnified exponentially.
In any relationship between a Christian and non-Christian the reasons for the ongoing discord are clear; the born again person has been transformed; they have different thoughts, values, standards and beliefs than the unbeliever. Their goals, motives and principles are different.
We look at life with an entirely different perspective than an unbeliever does. Our hope is in a different place, and our thoughts are focused on eternity rather than the temporal.
Our perspective on life is radically different than that of an unbeliever. Because of this, we do not have the same harmony or degree of fellowship in our relationships with unbelievers as we do with our believing family.
If you have entered into an unequally yoked situation, I suspect you realized early on that your relationship would never reach beyond the level of the superficial with this person. It grieves us deeply as we realize that they cannot share in the things that have come to mean the most to us in the entire world. Sure, we may share holidays and community with them, social events and sporting or recreation interests, but deep down the difference is radical. We realize that the difference is actually opposition.
Even in a marriage, the closest and most intimate human relationship we have as adults the believer and unbeliever are on the heart level diametrically opposed to each other. In the believer’s heart, Jesus Christ is Lord, Savior, Master.
To the unbeliever Christ may be a good man, he may be someone recognized in religiosity or ritual, he may even be someone treated with indifference or scorn. He may be viewed by the unbeliever as the one who messed up the perfect spouse, an intruder, a spoiler. The believer has oriented his or her life around godly pursuits and the unbeliever has as his focus “self” and the pursuit of comfort, monetary gain, and success.
With all this in mind, is it any wonder there is discord and strife in these relationships? How do we handle with truth and grace these people we love so dearly, or once loved so deeply who now are in opposition to everything we believe in? There is a misconception in this area that “God wants me to be happy” and “God doesn’t want me to live like this” that cannot be scripturally validated.
Women married to believers sometimes seek a way out. They come to our counseling center wanting a second opinion, a church validation that what they were told elsewhere was right and ask us to in essence rubber stamp their decision. Corinthians 7:12- 13 is clear that we cannot divorce our husbands for being unbelievers.
I find this to be a difficult and heart wrenching situation. I want to be compassionate and recognize the difficult situation the woman finds herself in. I was once in an unequally yoked relationship and I understand the misery and difficulty that is involved.
There are no easy answers for this situation. It requires much wisdom and seeking after the Lord for comfort, direction and strength. Tomorrow we will look at some specifics for living in an unequally yoked relationship.
There are no easy answers for this situation. It requires much wisdom and seeking after the Lord for comfort, direction and strength. Tomorrow we will look at some specifics for living in an unequally yoked relationship.
Wednesday, May 21, 2008
Proverbs 25:28 says, "A man (or woman) without self-control is like a city broken into and left without walls." The idea behind this verse is that self-control is a protective measure for us. It is to keep us from various harmful influences and vices as well as to keep us from plowing headlong into sin.
We dare not think that we are too wise to be seduced by things of this sinful age. King Solomon was the wisest man who ever lived and even with all his wisdom he still fell deeply into sin due to a lack of self-control. Anything that Solomon wanted he took; women being the greatest of his desires. He had over 700 wives from all different tribes including many from outside of the nation of Israel. Solomon did not govern his emotions and desires.
We women struggle with different things than our male counterparts. The things we wrestle with are a lack of self-control are in the areas of the tongue, food, spending, use of time and the like. Women can spend too much time watching television or reading books, and sad to say that much of the entertainment we indulge in is not godly.
We are to be self-controlled in all our dealings. This means we must have control over our desires, passions, wants, cravings, and our emotions. Everything in moderation is the key. Paul said "All things are lawful for me, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful for me, but I will not be mastered by anything." (1 Corinthians 6:12) This requires self-control.
To be successful in the area of self-control, every aspect of our lives is to be governed by the Holy Spirit because being self-controlled is not a part of out normal make-up. We love ourselves so much that we are willing to sin to get what we want, to go to any lengths to make it happen.
We must remove ourselves from places that tempt us to indulge our desires. If you tend to indulge your desire for "things" then a shopping mall may not be the place for you. If you indulge your desire for food than you must be very wise in where you eat. Perhaps a buffet is not the best place for you to have a meal! It is not that shopping or buffet meals are bad or evil they are inanimate objects; but what is evil is the heart and the heart wants to be indulged. What I have found is that what I start out controlling usually winds up controlling me! Sin always takes me further than I ever wanted to go...
Our hearts are naturally self-centered and self-indulgent and we do not want to be denied anything our flesh craves. This battle is ongoing and will be with us until we leave this earth! Gal. 5 says the Spirit is at war with our flesh, and our flesh is at war with the Spirit.
To be on the winning side of this battle daily we must daily expose our minds to the Word of God. We need daily reminding of what God says about who and what is to be controlling us and the dangers of journeying too far into the world.
The heart needs to be reoriented from one that loves and serves self to one that desires to glorify God more than anything else! As we pour God's Word into our hearts and minds changes will begin to take place within us. Protective walls will begin to be built around our hearts, walls of self-control. We will find that due to the power of the presence of the Holy Spirit working through the Word of God we have the ability to say "no" to our passions and desires. What once seemed so important will no longer pull so hard at our hearts and we will find new strength in Jesus Christ.
We will realize the victory that we have in Christ and that we are no longer captive to the desires of the flesh unless we want to be captives. We have been set free by Jesus' death and resurrection and the chains that once bound us to sin have been broken. You and I have the freedom to say "no thanks" when the sin of self-indulgence comes knocking on our door. We have the ability to be self-controlled.
Let's begin today renewing our minds in this area, and then let's begin to apply what the Word of God says and build self-control into our lives.
Tuesday, May 20, 2008
The attitude among some older women asked to serve in ministry is, "I have done my time, now it is time for me!" There is little to no interest in mentoring younger women or rocking babies in the nursery. The younger woman too struggle with their own desires for freedom to indulge their personal interests as well. If they can leave the kids with daddy the last thing on their minds is serving someone else!
We are all so busy! Many of us work outside the home in addition to raising our children and in some cases grandchildren. When we get "free time" we guard it jealously and resent anyone infringing on it. But does this honor God? Is there such a thing in the Bible called "me time?"
This is a heart of selfishness. The heart that believes it is all about me. What I want, what I think, and what I desire is far more important than anything you want.
I have also witnessed selfishness in actions and words. We could say this is inconsideration as a form of selfishness. Do you find yourself being rude to others? Are you sensitive to how your words affect others or do you not care too much about the impact your words have on others? Some women are willing to speak what is on their minds and are careless about any humiliation or embarrassment those words will cause. Is this thinking of others?
If you are time in-sensitive and show up late to meetings, events, and even church you are demonstrating selfishness through your inconsideration of others involved. Some people show up late to church week after week parading right down the center aisle and disturbing the worshipers, distracting the pastor and disregarding the efforts of the music people. This is simple selfishness, thinking only of ones self. How much effort does it take to get there on time?
How to I avoid selfishness? What do I do if I just learned I am a selfish person? First, you must make a plan to change. All meaningful change begins in the heart. Change from a heart of selfishness to a heart that is willing to give and serve. Phil 2:4 says, "...look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others." Ask the Lord to give you a desire to serve others, be considerate, be self less. God will honor your prayer for He desires that we imitate Christ who was the epitome of selflessness. Read Phil. chapter 2 to see just how giving the Lord Jesus Christ was!
Now get busy! It is not enough to pray and ask God to make you less selfish, you have to act on it! My mom taught me that charity begins in the home. It is the easiest place to serve others and the place we are least likely to willingly do so. Make your family the first recipients of your giving heart. Make time for other people in your life. Focus less on your own wants and perceived needs and consider others better than yourself. (Phil 2) Begin with the little things and work your way up to the list of One Another's we find in Scripture. Make it your goal to integrate one or two of those into your life each week.
A desire to serve God is a manifestation of His grace in your life. We can not conjure up these desires in the flesh, they are Spirit born and that is intentional by God. If your heart has been hardened to this aspect of your Christian life then this is the time to begin to pray for change.
You will soon see that serving others brings joy to your soul, cures depression, and most importantly brings glory to God!
Monday, May 19, 2008
Forgiveness is an act of the will and motivated by a heart that understands how much you have been forgiven and how unworthy you were to be forgiven.
God commands us to forgive one another, even of the deepest hurts. Jesus said our forgiveness is to be without limitations (Matt. 18:22-23). This means that you must forgive completely, holding nothing back. This is quite impossible for you to do alone, and thank God you don't have to! The Holy Spirit will assist you in applying this command to your heart and life so there is no excuse of "I can't" because your "can't" is a won't!
We hear several common reasons as to why people can't forgive. One of them is "I can't forgive until I forget." Nursing the hurt along in this manner will not heal you nor will it benefit you. The longer you continue to meditate on the hurt in the name of not forgetting the deeper bitterness grows.
Another common rational is "time will heal the pain." This is untrue. Time passes and bitterness grows because the pain is cherished and nursed as a baby.
I also hear women saying they will forgive when the other person says they are sorry. This can be abused, and this is not the model we have in Christ.
Luke 17:3-4 says, “Be on your guard! If your brother sins, rebuke him; and if he repents, forgive him. “And if he sins against you seven times a day, and returns to you seven times, saying, ‘I repent,’ forgive him.”
My pastor says, "Yes, the offender also has an obligation. He must repent and with the message of this repentance he must gladden the heart of the one whom he has injured (Luke 17:3, 4). But this does not remove the latter’s obligation to do all in his power to open wide the gate toward reconciliation."
Forgiveness is this:
“Forgiveness is a lifting of the charge of guilt from another, a formal declaration of that fact and a promise (made and kept) never to remember the wrong against the person in the future.—Jay Adams, Theology of Christian Counseling.
Forgiveness is an Act of Faith. “Forgiveness is an act of the will, and the will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”--Corrie Ten Boom—
Forgiveness is a promise not to dwell on the incident mentally any more. (Phil 4:8)
Forgiveness is a commitment to not bring the offense up to the person (as a weapon). (Matthew 6:12)
Forgiveness is a promise to not bring it up to others. (Ephesians 4:29)
Friday, May 16, 2008
Dear Reader, the Lord wants all of you, all of your heart, hopes, desires, will, mind, emotions, thoughts, beliefs, and every other remaining material and immaterial part that makes you "you!" A steadfast refusal to submit to His authority in your heart and life will bring you further heartache and pain. Much greater than any hurt you have suffered thus far.
When a woman is refusing to submit to God in this area of her life I have to wonder why. Sometimes I see it is because she is angry and bitter toward God. This can be tough to admit, and little frightening too. Who really wants to admit that they are bitter toward the Creator of the universe? It is more comforting to think you can hide it from Him as you hide it from anyone else. But you cannot. He knows your heart and He already knows you are angry and bitter toward Him. You must take hold of this truth: God is the sovereign God of the universe and He does what He wants with what is His. He does as He wishes, and it is always very good.
This may be very difficult to grasp in light of your situation. If you are an abused woman, or were abused as a child, or abandoned, or lonely, whatever your circumstances are God is sovereign over them. He intends to use them for your good, and He will bring glory to Himself as a result of them. You see, to believe otherwise sets you in judgment over God and His actions. You then decide what is good and evil and since you are bitter toward God you must believe His actions toward you were evil. Dear Sister, this is not so. God cannot perform evil and He cannot sin. He does not makes mistakes. He is loving, holy, perfect and sinless.
Remember Naomi from the book of Ruth? She may have believed for a time that God somehow made a mistake in taking her husband and sons from her, for she said He “brought me back empty.” It was no mistake, however. God was purposely unfolding His divine plan for humanity in Naomi’s life and in the death of her loved ones. Take note, dear one, that if Naomi’s son would have lived, Ruth would have remained his wife. Without the death of her husband, Ruth would not have been free to meet and marry Boaz, who became her kinsman redeemer. Ruth would not have given birth to their son, Obed, who became the father of Jesse, who is the father of David, from whose lineage comes the Christ.
Acceptance of hard things at the hand of a loving God is not easy. I encourage you to seek God in your circumstances and to trust that He is unfolding a divine plan that you cannot see right now, just as He did in the case of Naomi and Ruth. God’s sovereignty is always balanced by His love, and He promises to bring good out of every tragedy and heartache.
And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. For God knew his people in advance, and he chose them to become like his Son, so that his Son would be the firstborn, with many brothers and sisters. Romans 8:28-29 (NLT)
Thursday, May 15, 2008
Even when you are the wronged party in a situation, there is always the possibility that your response to being wronged is sinful. Your goal is to bring God glory in all facets of your life, and you are to display Christ through how you live it. (2 Cor. 4:10)
1 Peter 3:14-17 says, "But even if you should suffer for the sake of righteousness, you are blessed. AND DO NOT FEAR THEIR INTIMIDATION, AND DO NOT BE TROUBLED, but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame. For it is better, if God should will it so, that you suffer for doing what is right rather than for doing what is wrong."
I often use this passage when helping bitter women who cannot understand why they need to confess and apologize for anything! They are often fearful that to admit they have done anything wrong is to invite more abuse or more pain into their lives. Admittedly, sometimes that does happen. However the larger principle is that God is glorified and it is always better to suffer for doing what is right than to suffer for doing what is wrong.
In a previous entry, I said that there are times when confession is only to be made between you and the Lord. This would be when the person you have sinned against is unaware of it. Often bitter women think hateful thoughts in their hearts and say hateful things about others when no one is around. This is still sinful because God is always present and He can see the hidden places of the heart.
There are situations when you will need to confess your sin to others. For example, a bitter wife may complain about her husband in a Bible study and malign his character to the other women. The wife must confess to those women that what she did was wrong. The maxim is this: The scope of confession is always as great as the scope of offense. This may be difficult and humbling for you but it must be done.
You may want to make a list of all those that you know you have spilled bitter poison on. You may want to say something like this when you approach them:
"(name) I am working to resolve the bitterness in my heart and life regarding (person or situation). I have realized that I have said things to you about (name) that were sinful. I was wrong for saying these things to you, will you please forgive me?"
The goal is always to bring God glory and in confessing your own sin to others and asking their forgiveness you are doing so.
Wednesday, May 14, 2008
“For the eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous, And His ears attend to their prayer, But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:12
Last time Friends, I reminded you of the Scriptures that exhort us to get the log out of our own eye by recognizing our sin before we go rooting around other people’s issues. Bitter women are often very content to blame others for their own sinful responses and anger. While it may be true that another person can do and say things that are hurtful and cause you to become angry it is always your choice what you choose to do with those emotions. If you do not deal with them righteously you will sin in your anger and eventually, you will become bitter.
There is only one way out of bitterness, and that is to forgive. I understand that you may not feel like forgiving, perhaps in your mind to forgive makes you a fool or a doormat but that is not so. You may also think that those who have hurt you are not deserving of your forgiveness, and you may be right. Even in the hardest things of life we must always look to Christ as our example and subject our feelings to the authority of the Word of God.
What does the Bible say about forgiving those who hurt you?
“Whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father who is in heaven will also forgive you your transgressions. “But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father who is in heaven forgive your transgressions.” Mark 11:25-26
Those who are born again have been forgiven by God through Jesus Christ. We were so undeserving, and so unworthy of forgiveness or mercy…how can we possibly withhold forgiveness and mercy from another sinner? While the earliest manuscripts do not contain verse 26, we can still apply the heart of the verse for what Jesus is saying here is that a person who truly understands what they once were and even has an inkling of their own unworthiness will not withhold forgiveness, grace and mercy from another person. A true believer always forgives.
The very essence of grace is that I am not getting some horrible thing that I deserve and the essence of mercy is I am getting something I most certainly do not deserve…which is grace…forgiveness….justification….redemption…sanctification…reconciliation… how, dear reader, would you and I dare to withhold from another undeserving one this grace that has been lavished upon us?
Forgiveness is the only way to be done with bitterness. Please do not use the fear being taken advantage of by the one you forgive as reason to continue on this way. In cases where your adversary is unrepentant your willingness to forgive will be spoken to the Lord alone. It would be inappropriate to verbally convey forgiveness to someone who has not asked you for it.
The desire of your heart must become to forgive those who have hurt you. Ask the Lord to give you a hatred for the sins of anger and bitterness you are laden with and a heart that beats to glorify God through how you live your life. He will take it from there.
In Ezekiel 11:19-20 the Lord says, “And I will give them one heart, and put a new spirit within them. And I will take the heart of stone out of their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in My statutes and keep My ordinances and do them. Then they will be My people, and I shall be their God.”
It is the Lord your God who will change your heart from one hard, bitter stone into a soft, pliable, malleable heart ready to focus on Him. After the heart is prepared the work can begin.
Tuesday, May 13, 2008
When a person wants to address the heart of bitterness they must begin with themselves. The examination process begins right at home by seeking God’s help in revealing the contents of your heart in relation to how you have sinned against others. (Psalm 139:23-24) You may be wondering why begin with your heart and how you have sinned. Re-read the Matthew 7 passage carefully…Jesus is speaking here and he tells people who prefer to begin with how they have been sinned against rather than deal with their own culpability hypocrites!
Friend, it is unlikely that you have no responsibility before God in these difficult relationships. If nothing else, your responses to being maligned and rejected have not been glorifying to God. Please do not tune me out at this point- I was once a bitter woman and I understand what is being asked. You’re Lord and Savior is requesting this of you, not I. What the Scripture says is true, confession of your own sin and repentance for that sin must take place in your heart first.
Some women wonder what they are to confess and repent of. I have provided a list today of common responses for you to look over that may hit your heart. These are all actions, beliefs, speech, desires, and thoughts that I have heard over the years.
A bitter woman may:
- Slander the person they are bitter toward
- Gossip about them to others
- Wish they were ill or dead
- Pray for harm to come to them- financial, health
- React with rage and smash and break things
- Curse and swear at the person, even if they cannot hear you
- Do malicious acts, throw away their things, and “lose” special items of personal value to the person
- Refuse to help them or do various expected duties in the home for this person- cook, or do their laundry
- Withhold intimacy of all kinds
- Be argumentative and pick fights with them
- Open separate bank accounts and hide money
Now let me say at this point that not all women do these things, and I know no one who has done them all. The point of the list is to help you to see the depths of your own sin, to prick your conscience or to make you aware of some things you did not realize you were doing. You must deal with your own sin.
Get rid of all bitterness, rage, anger, harsh words, and slander, as well as all types of malicious behavior. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you. Ephesians 4:31-32 (NLT)
When a woman has been hurt for so long and had so much hope that has been crushed time and time again the last thing she wants to do is to make herself vulnerable again. I have seen women turn a mental corner in her heart toward the person who has hurt her. When she turns that corner, her heart becomes hardened and her desire is just to get out of the hurtful relationship. I do not blame her for those desires. However, she is still left with the unresolved bitterness and anger and hated and is literally carrying all that baggage around with her for the rest of her life. Remember, bitterness is an invasive and noxious weed. It will entwine itself around every new relationship you try to have, continue to stink up the ones that remain, and spread beyond your personal borders.
Pray about these things today and we will meet here again tomorrow.
Monday, May 12, 2008
This is why it is critical for her to begin to take some responsibility for her own actions in these relationships. All the Lord asks is that we take 100% responsibility for our part of the problems and then put our full effort behind resolving them.
I would urge you to go to those you have hurt, confess your sin, and first seek their forgiveness. You must be willing to get the log out of your own eye prior to examining your neighbor’s eye. (Matt. 7:1-5) We will begin with that tomorrow.
Friday, May 9, 2008
The heart knows its own bitterness, And a stranger does not share its joy. Proverbs 14:10
In the book of Ruth Chapter 1 Naomi arrives back in
Naomi says to the other women, “Things are far more bitter for me than for you, because the LORD himself has caused me to suffer.” And “. . . call me Mara, for the Almighty has made life very bitter for me. I went away full, but the LORD has brought me home empty. Why should you call me Naomi when the LORD has caused me to suffer and the Almighty has sent such tragedy?”
Naomi blames God for making her life bitter and empty. She lost her husband and all her sons in
Perhaps you struggle with the same type of bitterness. Sometimes women who have lost children to illness or accident blame God for their loss. “God, how could you take my beloved child from me? Don’t You know how much I loved him? How could You do this to me?”
An abandoned wife may become bitter as they wonder: “God, don’t You see how much I am struggling to raise these kids while he is out living the highlife? How can you let him get away with this? I am the one who was faithful, and now I am the one who is miserable while he has it made! Don’t you care about me? Why aren’t you punishing him?”
A single woman who longs for someone to share her life with and has faithfully prayed for years for a husband me become bitter as she comes to believe God is not providing something she needs. She may thing, “God don’t you care that I am so lonely? What is wrong with me that no one is interested in me?”
The honest person flounders and sees a crooked person prospering. “God, how can You stand by and let this happen? I am an honest person and my finances are failing to meet the needs! How can You let her get away with such thievery? I have a family to feed, God; why are you doing this to me?”
Bitterness arises out of a belief that God will not punish the people who hurt you, that God does not hear your plea, or that He does not care about your plight. Since God is apparently not going to intervene in your circumstances, you stand in as judge, jury, and executioner in the lives of other people.
This becomes a circular pattern. The more you dwell on what has been done to you, the injustice you have suffered, or the loss you have incurred, the deeper the root of bitterness goes. You already know that carrying around a load of bitterness is exhausting.
Bitterness hardens your heart on the inside and your features on the outside. It also defiles those around you because it is contagious. The dark cloud of bitterness will eventually permeate everything you are and everything you do. Life becomes one disappointment after the other and only serves to increase your discontent with God’s plan for your life.
Discontent is a large component of bitterness. You are dissatisfied with what God’s plan is for your life and angry that God is not doing things your way. Oh my friends, bitterness is a road that leads to further pain and misery for you. I urge you to spend some time examining your heart for these cancerous roots. You don’t have to live this way any longer, I can say with certainty that it is not God’s will for your life.
“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I came that they may have life, and have it abundantly. John 10:10
If the Lord wills, next time we will learn how to attack bitterness His way!
Thursday, May 8, 2008
“I loathe my own life; I will give full vent to my complaint; I will speak in the bitterness of my soul. Job 10:1
Yesterday we started to take a look at bitterness. Bitterness is a result of not dealing biblically with being hurt and angry. I left you with this thought, “When anger is allowed to fester and a person ruminates on their hurt the sad result is bitterness. Bitterness then, is the result of anger changing from an experience to a belief. Bitterness is seething and constant. Bitter people carry very heavy burdens as do angry people, and bitter people tend to “infect” those around them as angry people do as well.”
I think it would be good for us to examine the face of bitterness. We disguise bitterness as many righteous things and in so doing we are deceiving ourselves. The most common place we see bitterness revealed in the display of self-righteousness.
Self-righteousness is seen when a woman (or man) “plays the martyr.” In her speech you will hear statements like this:
- I work so hard here and no one cares (meaning I work harder than anyone else and you are not paying attention!)
- If no one appreciates me then I am going to quit (meaning I deserve recognition and no one is giving me what I want)
- I do a better job and I am not recognized (meaning my reason for doing what I do is for glory of self)
- Why should she have more children (meaning I should be the one who has more children, I am better than she is)
Her speech is often loaded with complaints and grumbling and whining about things that are not as she wants or believes they should be. She also tears people down with criticism and nagging. A bitter woman is usually not shy about telling her woes to anyone who will listen. She tends to wear people out with her constant complaining and moaning about the people she is bitter toward. Someone once said that a bitter woman is like a yapping Pekinese. (Ps. 64:3,4;
You will also hear her further compare others to herself. She may pick out physical characteristics, income, relationships with others, a variety of ways are possible for her to try and prove that she is better than someone else and often it will have a “Christian” bend as she attempts to justify herself to others.
A bitter woman is easy to spot for you can see it on her face. Her jaw is often clenched, her lips are pressed together and she looks angry all the time. There is a hardened shell around her that is almost visible. Often folks say that they are fearful of approaching her because she looks like she will bite your head off if you try! (Prov 5:4)
Therefore, another face of bitterness is loneliness. With all this whirling around her, she frequently finds herself alone for who wants to associate with someone like this? This only ads fuel to her fire as the problem is not hers; as she believes it is everyone else who just doesn’t seem to understand her. She would be what the Bible describes as bitter in soul. (Job 3:20, 21:25)
Does a fountain send out from the same opening both fresh and bitter water? Can a fig tree, my brethren, produce olives, or a vine produce figs? Nor can salt water produce fresh. James 3:11- 12
The faces of bitterness come from the heart. A woman with a bitter heart is in deep spiritual difficulty because her heart has ceased to be focused on God or His good working in her life. The extent of her believing in God’s sovereignty often ends at her blaming God for her circumstances as Naomi did in the book of Ruth.
“When they came to
She was speaking to the townspeople when she arrived back home with Ruth. Could it be that they could see the changes in Naomi? Was her countenance so different after her ordeal in
Tomorrow we will look into the heart of bitterness.
Wednesday, May 7, 2008
In my ministry I am often called upon to minister to women that struggle deeply with anger and bitterness. The reasons for anger and bitterness vary greatly. However, one thing that is not variable is the result of bitterness.
Bitterness begins with anger. The anger can be a result of being hurt in some way by another. I see married women who are bitter in their marriages, and I see single women who are bitter because they are unmarried. I see teens who are bitter because of issues with their parents, and young adults who are bitter because life is not giving them the fair shakes they feel they deserve.
People in each of these groups have attempted to deal with their hurt and anger in some way and often that way was not biblical. The most common way of dealing with hurt is to try and ignore it and pretend it does not hurt. Stuffing these hurt feelings is not advisable because often the hurt doesn’t stop and multiple hurts pile up within and anger and bitterness are the result.
When you are hurt, the way to deal with it is first to ask yourself if the emotion or feeling is legitimate. Be honest with yourself and ask questions such as, “Am I being oversensitive?” “Did he/she intend to be hurtful?” Sadly, sometimes people do intend to hurt us, especially by their words. If you are not being oversensitive then you must learn how to biblically deal with times when you will be hurt, or bitterness will be the result.
Bitterness is unresolved, unforgiven anger and resentment. When a person is hurt and that hurt is not addressed biblically we become angry. The anger is a result of being denied justice or equity in the situation. We want to be heard and we want our feelings validated. This is not unusual, who doesn’t want to be consoled when they are hurt? When it seems that no one cares about our hurts we become angry. It does go back to what we believe about our personal rights as well.
If I believe that I have a right to something and that right is violated then I am going to be angry. This makes perfect sense until we realize that many of the things we consider our rights are only “rights” by our perception. I may perceive I possess a right to have something I am not truly entitled to. For example, while I believe it is my right to be appreciated I have nothing to base that on other than my own system of values. When other people don’t appear to appreciate me I will become hurt and angry and then have a desire to retaliate, or manipulate people or situations to be appreciated. If my desire for appreciation is still not met I will become angry for I am not getting something I want!
When anger is allowed to fester and a person ruminates on their hurt the sad result is bitterness. Bitterness then, is the result of anger changing from an experience to a belief. Bitterness is seething and constant. Bitter people carry very heavy burdens as do angry people, and bitter people tend to “infect” those around them as angry people do as well.
Tomorrow we shall look at what bitterness looks like in our lives.
Tuesday, May 6, 2008
This is the title of a song by a folksy female artist from the 1970’s. I vividly recall being a young teen hearing this song and playing it over and over on a vinyl record. It was unusual to be named “Julie” in those days, I was typically the only one in a class and my name was often misspelled “July.” I would have preferred something exotic like Daphne…
So young then, and so much life yet to live. As I look back on the younger me through the lyrics of the song I can remember what I thought my life would be like today. As with most childhood dreams reality turned out much different. Better than what I imagined actually because then my life was apart from Christ. I was lost, and alienated from God and the special love He has for His children. I lived under God’s common grace and it would be years before I found Christ.
One of the lyrics in the song really struck me today as I listened to this song. “We want you to love the world, to know it well and play a part. And we’ll help you to learn to love yourself; because that’s where loving really starts.” Have you ever labored under that same delusion? I have. There was a significant chunk of my life when I believed that before I could really love someone else I needed to love myself. I sought love and approval constantly because I thought that before I would have enough to spare I had to be overflowing with incoming love.
What I learned is that the tank always hovered someplace right above empty no matter how much was poured in. I, like other humans possess a bottomless pit for love intake. We do crazy things to be loved, or what we perceive love to be anyway. We play games with others, we manipulate through tears and fears, we beg and plead and threaten if we are not receiving the amount of love we think we are entitled to. We even walk out on people we want to love us thinking that if they see us leaving they will be sure to follow, professing their love in some new and convincing way. All to no avail. No matter how much we get it is never enough.
Loving doesn’t really start when you learn to love yourself…it begins when you understand that you have to love someone more than you love yourself. Ask any new mommy who gets up and walks the floor with her infant in the middle of the night. It is certainly not love for self she does this, believe me! All that is within just wants to sleep and the crying to stop because it is a big exhausting bother to keep doing this over and over. Oh, how she may want to roll over and cover her head with the pillow, but her love for that other little person pulls her out of bed often several times on one short night.
We know God in Christ demonstrated this selfless love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. (
“…He has been manifested to put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself. And inasmuch as it is appointed for men to die once and after this comes judgment, so Christ also, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time for salvation without reference to sin, to those who eagerly await Him.”
Hebrews 9:26- 28
“…but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, Hebrews 10:12
Christ, the sinless Son of God sacrificed Himself for us while I was still dead in my trespasses and sins (Eph 2:1) and then was patient in His time of my day of salvation. All the wile knowing what kind of a sinner I would be prior to my conversion. Whew! It staggers my mind to consider the love of Christ!
Because of this love I do play a part in this world and I do have a love for the lost. Because of His love I am able to love others more than I love myself. His is the standard to reach and when I love others to the point that I would die in their place then I will have become like Christ. Until that time you and I are to serve and sacrifice for the benefit of others. Our lives are to be spent in the pursuit of Christ-likeness, exuding grace to each life we touch in the process.
Monday, May 5, 2008
Allow me to explain; some of you know my son is in the Air Force and recently moved to off base housing. We have been gathering things for his new apartment to get him set up- pots and pans, dishes and such.
My mom wanted to give him a set of cookware, and each of the last 5 times I was there I “forgot” to take it home. I was groaning about this yesterday because I had been over there the previous day, and even right in the basement kitchen where they are stored!