A daily, Bible-based perspective of hope, encouragement and exhortation.
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
As the trees lose their leaves we will face the relative starkness of the winter season, but the crimson tree really stands out on this Amish farm near Intercourse, PA
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"Bitterness Or Thankfulness"
Message summary: Praise God for the redeeming, reconciling, regenerative and restorative work of Christ! Today I urge any of you dealing with bitterness to nip it at its root. Bitterness is nipped when we practice forgiveness. Certainly, you've been hurt; some of you in horrendously painful ways. But Christ continues to redeem, reconcile, regenerate and restore! Today please turn to Him. We can be bitter or we can be thankful. Let us choose thankfulness, "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).
Listen to this message on your audio player.
"Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice" (Ephesians 4:31). "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20). "See to it that …no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many" (Hebrews 12:15).
Recently someone gave us several persimmons, a fruit we rarely come across. This morning I spoke to about 40 employees at a company gathering and only two had ever eaten a persimmon. I have a faint memory of it having a bad taste when I was young. A friend informed me, "The key is that they must be very ripe" to avoid the bad taste many describe as bitter and sour, even creating a puffiness in their mouths.
Have you eaten something and said, "It left a bitter taste in my mouth", such as the taste of an under-ripened persimmon. Well, today let us consider an even worse experience; having a bitter attitude in our hearts.
I recall an interaction I had with a man many years ago in the course of our chaplaincy work. I sensed his hard, grizzled face had a story but he was never very talkative. Over months of brief greetings I tried to break through the hard shell. He told me he was a Vietnam vet but little else. One week I gave him a small witness card with this message, "When you harbor bitterness, happiness will dock elsewhere" (attributed to Andy Rooney) along with our daily Scripture verse.
For some reason, hopefully prompted by the Holy Spirit, I handed him the card and said, "I sense this message is for you". I hadn't planned to say that, it just came out as I greeted him. Although my comment could have offended him he looked at the card and quietly nodded as though in agreement. I continued to see the man for some time and he seemed a bit more open, but our paths stopped crossing and I really don't know the outcome. Prayerfully a seed was planted.
Bitterness can result from an unrelenting hostility or resentment you hold on to when you are hurt, offended or even disappointed by someone or by a tragic event. Sometimes bitterness can even be directed toward God. The hurt germinates in our heart and is characterized by an unforgiving spirit and generally negative, critical attitude. Bitterness and resentment are sinful attitudes that are self-destructive. Bitterness will impact your conscious and unconscious thoughts and actions. As one writer states, "Bitterness is unforgiveness fermented". Allowed to fester, it will destroy and kill.
But so many people deal with bitterness, even Christians. In fact the daily Scripture portions are addressed to believers. Bitterness indeed "causes trouble and defiles many", primarily to the one harboring it but many others as well. Consider how one bitter family member can affect others.
Chuck Swindoll writes,
"Self-pity…. cuddle and nurse it as an infant and you'll have on your hands in a brief period of time a beast, a monster, a raging, coarse brute that will spread the poison of bitterness and paranoia throughout your system."
I am so thankful for the redeeming, reconciling, regenerative and restorative work of Christ! Today I urge any of you dealing with bitterness to nip it at its root. Bitterness is nipped when we practice forgiveness. Certainly, you've been hurt; some of you in horrendously painful ways. But Christ continues to redeem, reconcile, regenerate and restore! Today please turn to Him. We can be bitter or we can be thankful. Let us choose thankfulness, "Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ" (Ephesians 5:20).
Be encouraged today, (Hebrews 3:13)
Stephen & Brooksyne Weber
Daily prayer: Father, help me to realize that bitterness results from my accommodation to deep seated anger for unfortunate circumstances usually beyond my control. When I choose to harbor anger and an unforgiving spirit I do the greatest harm to myself rather than my offender. The pain and grief related to my heartache grows into a poisonous vine that begins to entwine itself around my heart. Instead of being thankful for the abundant blessings that You shower upon me daily and the countless times You've forgiven me for my sinful behavior, I focus on the raging storms that leave destruction and debris along my path. Instead, You want me to turn away from my bitter rage and choose to find comfort and peace under Your wings of protection. Help me to find refuge in You instead of cultivating my pain. Help me to release my bitterness and embrace Your balm of healing. In the name of Jesus I pray. Amen.
Today's Suggested Music and Supplemental Resources
"His Mercy Is More" Video Matt Boswell with Boyce College Choir It is such a blessing to see these young people singing!
This morning I ate a very sweet, juicy persimmon!
Planting spiritual seed can be discouraging since you often don't see the harvest on this side. This is especially true in our form of chaplaincy where we meet many people with various backgrounds at their workplace. (As a pastor you assume people in the church have some spiritual interest!) This morning I was at JB Hostetter, our local hardware store, and saw a man I vaguely recognized. He looked at me with the same expression. We got to talking and found out about ten years ago he worked for a company where we have a role in distributing Christian literature. He told me he had picked up a Bible and he shared with me that it had been meaningful to him. He has not worked there in many years but has since married, has three children, is serving the Lord and active in his church! Of course that was encouraging to me!
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Scripture references are from The Holy Bible: New International Version. © 1984 by International Bible Society; NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE®, Copyright © 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, New King James Version (NKJV) Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. and the King James Version.
Personal Mission Statement: "I am created by God to bring Him glory. Through God's Son Jesus Christ I have been redeemed and make it my life's goal to please the Lord. My mission in life is to honor God through my faith and obedience and prepare myself and all whom I may influence for eternity."
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