Posts Tagged ‘Jesus’

The Bitter Root – Failing the Grace of God

“Look after each other so that none of you fails to receive the grace of God. Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you, corrupting many.” —Heb 12:15 NLT

One by one we poured out the hurt we encountered through the church. Some had grievances with pastors, some with elders, and others with a brother or sister in the congregation. This issue came up while we were discussing why some people do not attend church. I emptied my heart on this issue, as I too was apart from the church for a short period of time. But my conclusion was that we always have to come back to the Scriptures to see why God created the New Testament church, and where we fit in.

When I got home from this meeting, it hit me between the eyes – we often divorce ourselves from the church when we are hurt. We tend to play it safe and stay where we are most comfortable – at home. But is this Biblical?

According to Easton’s Bible dictionary, “Bitterness is symbolical of affliction, misery, and servitude (Ex. 1:14; Ruth 1:20; Jer. 9:15). The Chaldeans are called the “bitter and hasty nation” (Hab. 1:6). The “gall of bitterness” expresses a state of great wickedness (Acts 8:23). A “root of bitterness” is a wicked person or a dangerous sin (Heb. 12:15).[1]

When we allow past hurts to take root in our lives, we are succumbing to bondage. And that bondage, when fully rooted, makes us groan/complain. When the children of God were slaves in Egypt, they cried out to God in their distress, because they were heavy laden. It is no surprise then, that the Passover is celebrated with bitter herbs, symbolizing the oppression of the Israelites.

“No oppression can give us joy. No oppression can give us satisfaction. No oppression can help alleviate the misery our soul is bound to.”

When the New Testament church met regularly, it was to exhort each other, meet their needs and hold each other accountable. We were not created to be an island to ourselves, but streams of living water that flow outward and change lives for Christ. Paul says this about meeting together as Christians:

Let us think of ways to motivate one another to acts of love and good works. And let us not neglect our meeting together, as some people do, but encourage one another, especially now that the day of his return is drawing near. [2]

God created the New Testament church as a gathering place for the saints. It is to be a safe haven for His people to gather and be united in His word and deed. When we forgive, we produce fruit of righteousness (right living) that is pleasing to God. Although this dwelling place is full of redeemed, yet tainted people, we fail God when we do not forgive each other. We conclude that His grace is not sufficient for us, because we cannot forgive others of their trespasses. Love covers a multitude of sin (1 Peter 4:8-9). By God’s grace we were forgiven at the cross. And by God’s grace He covered our guilt.

What about you? Is there someone in the church who has hurt you directly or indirectly? Are you allowing a “root of bitterness” to keep you and them in bondage? I encourage you today, sever the wicked weed of unforgiveness, and untangle yourself. Your holy crop depends on it!


[1] Easton, M. (1996). Easton’s Bible dictionary. Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] Tyndale House Publishers. (2007). Holy Bible : New Living Translation. (3rd ed.) (Heb 10:24–25). Carol Stream, IL: Tyndale House Publishers.


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Twilight – Slaughter at Golgotha

The Passion of Benny Hill

“Your lamb shall be without blemish, a male of the first year. You may take it from the sheep or from the goats. Now you shall keep it until the fourteenth day of the same month. Then the whole assembly of the congregation of Israel shall kill it at twilight.” Exodus 12:5–6

Death hung in the air, as the Passover lamb was nailed to the cross. The day drew to its pinnacle, as mourners and mockers assembled to see the unblemished One slaughtered. Beaten beyond recognition, blood poured from His wounds. Just a few days earlier, they welcomed Jesus into their homes, and praised Him in the streets as their king, crying, “Hosanna! Hosanna! Blessed is He who comes in the name of the Lord!”  Now, they spit and curse and revile Him.

In preperation of the Feast of Unleavened Bread and the Passover, the people purged out the leaven in their homes. They prepared the Seder and partook of bitter herbs (to remind them of the bitterness they endured as slaves in Egypt),  and ate unleavened bread (to remind them of the freedom they received leaving Egypt, from the bread of affliction they used to taste daily). They ate the flesh of the Passover lamb and burned its remains.

Symbolic to this ritual, was Jesus, the Bread of Life and the Lamb of the Passover, hanging on a tree (cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree), tasting the bitterness of God’s wrath. As the sins of the world burned through Christ’s body, He was purged of the old leaven (sins of man). When Jesus said, “It is finished,” He was taken down from the cross and placed in the tomb, just at the Jews put away the “aphikomen,” the larger piece of Matzah that was broken in two and hid for the children to find at the closing of the Seder meal.

So far it doesn’t seem like a “Good Friday.” But “Son”day is on its way…

No Looking Back

But Jesus told him, “Anyone who puts a hand to the plow and then looks back is not fit for the Kingdom of God.” Luke 9:62 NLT

People working with cattle and plough in Gorj ...

(Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Cultivating Thought:

Worldly cares distract us from fully committing to God. Jesus knows the hearts of men and their excuses for not following Him (Luke 9:57-62). He used the example of plowing to illustrate the qualifications needed to be a kingdom disciple.

In Jesus’ time, the typical plow was pulled by oxen. If the person breaking the ground looked back while steering, it would inevitably turn the blade in the wrong direction, thus creating a crooked furrow. If the rows curved, they would waste space and be unable to plant to their advantage.

When we allow disturbances to take precedence over our duty to God, they hinder us from producing fruitful work. It is then that we find ourselves heading in an undesirable way of life (or even in circles). It takes focus and follow through to plot and plow when and where God assigns us. Jesus knew the urgency of preparation, because the harvest was near.

Prayer:

God of discipleship, thank You for Your example through Jesus. Please guide  me to better plot out the time You have given me. I now bury all excuses and cast my gaze before me, fully committing to glorify You, as You prepare my heart for harvest. In Jesus name, amen.

Roller Coaster Companion – The Ups and Downs of Sciatica

The Scenic Railway at Luna Park (Melbourne, Au...

Image via Wikipedia

Up and down. Side to side. Slow climb up. Now curve left, then plunge. Straight away with increasing speed, then upside down and straight through to do it all over again.

The previous descriptions may sound like a typical roller coaster ride at any amusement park, but I am actually using a word picture to describe what the last four months of my life has been with Sciatica: with a pinch in my back, I jump up out of bed, and then lay back down, because I cannot stand or sit for too long. I try to position myself on one side, but then feel a pain in my hip and have to switch to the other side. A slow climb to prolonged sitting after chiropractor adjustments gives me confidence, but then the injury comes back and I plunge back into bed. Again, I continue with chiropractor, massage, stretches and walking. With my constant routine I begin increasing speed, even up to walking 3 miles per day (for over a month) and holding steady to sitting as much as I would like. But then all of a sudden, I find myself upside down with hurt and starting my ascent all over again. I’m tired and discouraged, not willing to go this route again, and having to fight my way off the roller coaster before it gets up to swiftness again.

In a previous post I explained what Sciatica is and how it affected my daily routine. I am writing this because I am finding myself, once again, racking up “frequent roller miles.” Don’t get me wrong, I love a good roller coaster ride! I love the thrill of going fast, whipping around bends and then anticipating the next plummet. But when it is involuntary, it freaks me out. No one likes to do something they don’t want to; forcing them to get on a ride when they are unwilling is not a pleasant thing to do. It can cause anxiety, distrust and bitterness. And I admit I can be that way when I am in pain – unpleasant and restless.

Traveling Companion

If you had to go on a trip from point A to point B, while suffering, would you rather go it alone or with a close friend? I would guess that most of you would say that you would go with a close friend.

Any road that is traveled alone is long and tiresome. But with a comrade, you are encouraged and uplifted.

When you are weak, they become strong. When you fall, they lift you up (Ecclesiastes 4:10). True friends will go the distance. Loyal friends will help you when no one else will dare to cast their glance upon you. And a faithful friend will carry your burden, even if they have to ride beside you in the same car on the same track to the same place. They never leave your side!

I have one of those friends. My friend sympathizes, because He walked a similar path of suffering. The anguish and pain He felt puts my complaints and unwillingness (to walk this road) to shame. Because Jesus took my chastisement upon Him and willingly suffered stripes upon His back for my healing (Isiah 53:5), I can be confident that there is nothing I will go through that He cannot identify with. I can look to Him with confidence that I will not go through anything that will over through my faith or derail His plans for my life (even Sciatica).

So for now, I sit buckled to hope, anticipating the next stop, knowing that my faithful Traveling Companion will never leave me nor forsake me (Hebrews 13:5), as I ride this roller coaster called Sciatica.

Red Skies In The Morning – Pharisees Take Warning

"Red sky in the morning, ...

Image by Gemma Stiles via Flickr

He answered and said to them, “When it is evening you say, ‘It will be fair weather, for the sky is red’; and in the morning, ‘It will be foul weather today, for the sky is red and threatening.’ Hypocrites! You know how to discern the face of the sky, but you cannot discern the signs of the times.  A wicked and adulterous generation seeks after a sign, and no sign shall be given to it except the sign of the prophet Jonah.”  [1]

As I awoke with ocean view in sight, the sun splashed its rays past the beachfront deck, spilling onto the water. Pinkish-red light accented thin white clouds. My thoughts drifted to the saying: “Red skies at night, sailor’s delight, red skies in the morning, sailors take warning.” I heard this saying much as a little child, and it has always stuck with me. But what I didn’t know back then, was that Jesus coined this famous phrase thousands of years ago.

When the Pharisees asked Jesus to perform a sign, to demonstrate that He really was the Son of God, Jesus gave them a warning from scripture. He toyed with their perception of discerning the present, because they refused to accept that God was with them. They fixed their gaze to the skies and played the hypocrite, demanding that He entertain them with a sign. Satan tried this tactic in the wilderness, by telling Jesus to perform a miracle. But just as Jesus refused Satan, He also refused the Pharisees. The Messiah is not a puppet on a string, waiting to entertain unbelievers at their beck and call. But rather, He is the Son of God, freely proving Himself by working miracles and wonders, as the Father instructs. “Many good works I have shown you from My Father. For which of those works do you stone Me (John 10:32)?

Had Jesus performed a sign for the Pharisees, they would have discredited Him by saying He was of the devil. But instead, He gave them a forewarning from the scriptures (Matthew 12:38-41), signifying that just as Jonah was three days and three nights in the belly of a whale, so He will be three days and three nights in the heart of the earth. What was written in the Old Testament was a shadow of things to come – the Messiah’s mission was to fulfill the anti-type of ancient times, by proving He was the Son of God. He did this on a daily basis. The Pharisees, of all people, should have seen Jesus as the Christ, but they were so caught up in their self-righteousness that they could not put two and two together. Studying the scriptures and then teaching God’s people, would have put them in perfect alignment with the Living Word. But as Jesus walked among them, raising the dead and forgiving sins, they became short-sighted and blind. They had zeal for the scriptures, but denied that this miracle worker was the Son of God. They did not have a heart to believe that Jesus was the Messiah, therefore “seeing they did not see, and hearing they did not hear (Mark 4:12).”

The Bible says that one must first believe that God exists, and that He rewards those who earnestly seek Him. Because the Pharisees did not believe that Jesus was the Messiah, He performed no miracle. But for those who will believe in Him today, He gives the greatest miracle of all – eternal life.

What about you? Do you doubt that Jesus is the Christ? Has hardness of heart kept you from fully committing to Him? Would you like to know with clarity that you will go to heaven?

The starting point to salvation is faith, because without it, it is impossible to please God. The Bible says that “If you confess with your mouth, ‘Jesus is Lord,’ and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation. 11 For the Scripture says, “Whoever believes on Him will not be put to shame (Romans 10:8-11).”

Don’t miss out on salvation because of unbelief. Learn from the Pharisee’s warning – believe today and see the salvation of the Lord.

1] The New King James Version. 1982 (Mt 16:2–4). Nashville: Thomas Nelson.