Charles Stanley – A Root of Bitterness

 

Hebrews 12:12-15

If you’ve ever tried to get rid of weeds in your lawn or garden, you know what a big problem they can be. You pull them out, and everything looks really good for a while, but before long, the unwanted growth returns because the roots are still there.
An unforgiving spirit is like a root branching out in all directions, affecting every area of our life. Lopping off the leaves by repressing the pain and resentment isn’t a long-term solution, because like a weed, bitterness can continue to grow and reproduce as long as roots are in place.

When we’ve been deeply hurt, we sometimes resist offering forgiveness, thinking that a pardon excuses the wrongdoer and downplays the severity of the wrong done to us. But that’s not what forgiveness is—it’s letting go of both the offense and our right to demand payment, with the acknowledgment that vengeance is God’s responsibility, not ours (Rom. 12:17-21).

Stubbornly refusing to forgive may seem like a way to get even, but it’s actually a poison that harms us. It hampers our ability to enjoy life and, like any sin, erodes our fellowship with the Lord. Unforgiveness could even affect our health, resulting in physical illness, anxiety, or depression.

But roots of bitterness don’t stop with us; they reach into our relationships, causing trouble and defiling others (Heb. 12:15). An unforgiving spirit hinders our ability to love, poisoning the atmosphere in homes and workplaces.

Isn’t it time to deal with that root of bitterness? Lay down your grievances and refuse to rehearse your hurts. Then fill your mind with positive things instead—namely, truths about the Lord.

Bible in One Year: John 6-7

 

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Our Daily Bread — Catching Foxes

 

Read: Song of Solomon 2:14–17 | Bible in a Year: Jeremiah 27–29; Titus 3

Catch for us the foxes, the little foxes that ruin the vineyards. Song of Solomon 2:15

While talking on the phone with a friend who lives by the seaside, I expressed delight at hearing seagulls squawking. “Vile creatures,” she responded, for to her they’re a daily menace. As a Londoner, I feel the same way about foxes. I find them not cute animals but roaming creatures that leave smelly messes in their wake.

Foxes appear in the love poetry of the Song of Solomon, an Old Testament book that reveals the love between a husband and wife and, some commentators believe, between God and His people. The bride warns about little foxes, asking her bridegroom to catch them (2:15). For foxes, hungry for the vineyard’s grapes, could tear the tender plants apart. As the bride looks forward to their married life together, she doesn’t want vermin disturbing their covenant of love.

How can “foxes” disturb our relationship with God? For me, when I say “yes” to too many requests, I can become overwhelmed and unpleasant. Or when I witness relational conflict, I can be tempted to despair or anger. As I ask the Lord to limit the effect of these “foxes”—those I’ve let in through an open gate or those that have snuck in—I gain in trust of and love for God as I sense His loving presence and direction.

How about you? How can you seek God’s help from anything keeping you from Him?

Lord God, You are powerful and You are good. Please protect my relationship with You, keeping out anything that would take my eyes off You.

God can guard our relationship with Him.

By Amy Boucher Pye

INSIGHT

Although the author is not specifically named, Song of Songs is traditionally attributed to Solomon, who is mentioned in 1:1, 5; 3:7, 9, 11; 8:11, 12 and who is referred to as “King Solomon” in 3:9–11. Therefore, this book is also called “The Song of Solomon.” Solomon composed 1,005 songs (1 Kings 4:32), but this song is deemed to be “the best”—hence the appropriate title “Solomon’s Song of Songs” (1:1). It is one of two biblical books (the other is Esther) where God isn’t mentioned explicitly. Some interpret Song of Songs as an allegory of Christ’s love for the church; others consider it to be a poem describing the romance and relationship of two passionate lovers. Rich in nature metaphors—“Your eyes are doves” (1:15); “My beloved is like a gazelle” (2:9); “The little foxes that ruin the vineyards” (v. 15)—the song celebrates sexual love and physical intimacy within the bonds of marriage (4:8–5:1). Together husband and wife wield out “the foxes” (2:15), removing anything that threatens their loving union or hurts the exclusivity of their marriage.

  1. T. Sim

 

 

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Ravi Zacharias Ministry – Dining Scandalously

We typically fill our parties with people similar to ourselves. We invite into our homes those we work with, play with, or otherwise have something in common with. We celebrate with fellow graduates, entertain people from our neighborhoods, and open our doors to four year-olds when our own is turning four. Psychologists concur: we socialize with those in our circles because we have some ring of similarity that connects us.

The man in the parable of the great banquet is no different. The story is told in Luke chapter 14 of an affluent master of ceremonies who had invited a great number of people like himself to a meal. The list was likely distinguished; the guests were no doubt as prosperous socially as they were financially. Jesus sets the story at a critical time for all involved. The invitations had long been sent out and accepted. Places were now set; the table was now prepared. All was ready. Accordingly, the owner of the house sent his servant to bring in the guests. But none would come.

Anthropologists characterize the culture of Jesus’s day as an “honor/shame” society, where one’s quality of life was directly affected by the amount of honor or shame socially attributed to him or her. The public eye was paramount; every interaction either furthered or diminished one’s standing, honor, and regard in the eyes of the world.

Thus, in this parable, the master of the banquet had just been deliberately and publicly shamed. He was pushed to the margins of society and treated with the force of contempt. Hearers of this parable would have been waiting with baited breath to hear how this man would attempt to reclaim his honor. But scandalously, in fact, the master of the feast did not attempt to reverse his public shame. Altogether curiously, he embraced it.

Turning to the slave, the owner of the house appointed the servant with a new task: “Go out quickly into the streets and lanes of the city, and the poor and maimed and lame and blind bring in here.”(1) Returning, the servant reported, “Lord it has all occurred as you ordered, and still there is room.” So the owner of the house responded again, “Go out into the waves and hedges and compel them to come in, that my house may be filled.”

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Joyce Meyer – Bridle Your Tongue

 

For we all stumble and sin in many ways. If anyone does not stumble in what he says [never saying the wrong thing], he is a perfect man [fully developed in character, without serious flaws], able to bridle his whole body and rein in his entire nature…. — James 3:2 (AMP)

Adapted from the resource Power Thoughts Devotional – by Joyce Meyer

According to this scripture, the one thing proving our level of spiritual maturity isn’t how religious we are—whether we can quote Scripture, or the good works we do—it is the words from our mouths.

James 1:26 says, If anyone thinks himself to be religious (piously observant of the external duties of his faith) and does not bridle his tongue but deludes his own heart, this person’s religious service is worthless (futile, barren) (AMP).

No matter how religious you think you are, the true test proving your spirituality is whether you bridle your tongue or not. Bridle means “to restrain or control.” If we aren’t controlling our tongues, we are not operating in the level of maturity God wants us to have.

Prayer Starter: Holy Spirit, please help me with my words today. I can’t do it on my own, but with Your help, I can speak words of life and encouragement to those around me. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.

 

http://www.joycemeyer.org

Campus Crusade for Christ; Bill Bright –Judging the World

 

“For He has set a day for justly judging the world by the man He has appointed, and has pointed Him out by bringing Him back to life again” (Acts 17:31).

Why does God command men and women to repent? And why does He expect you and me to relay His message to them?

The answer is simple: because “He has set a day for justly judging the world.” And if people refuse to be penitent and thus become pardoned, they must be condemned.

“Justly,” of course, can be interpreted: “according to the rules of strict justice.” And who will do the judging? The man God has appointed – His only Son, Jesus Christ; the one He has pointed out to us clearly by bringing Him back to life again.

Jesus, you will remember, declared that He would judge the nations (John 5:25,26 and Matthew 25). God confirmed the truth of those declarations by raising Him from the dead – giving His sanction to what the Lord Jesus has said, for surely God would not work a miracle on behalf of an imposter.

What comfort and help can you and I receive from these truths today? Surely, this is a reminder that God is still on the throne; He is in control; nothing is going on in the world without His knowledge and consent.

Further, we are reminded of God’s justice, which assures us that He will always do right in behalf of His children. That falls right in line with Romans 8:28, of course, which concerns all things working together for our good.

Bible Reading:Psalm 9:7-10

TODAY’S ACTION POINT: World turmoil will not upset me, for I know the God who sits on the throne – and who rules over all

 

 

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Max Lucado – God Uses the Common

 

Listen to Today’s Devotion

Luke 17:33 says,  “Those who try to keep their lives will lose them.  But those who give up their lives will save them.” Heaven may have a shrine to honor God’s uncommon use of the common.  If so, it’s a place you won’t want to miss.  See Rahab’s rope, David’s sling, and Samson’s jawbone.  Wrap your hand around the staff that split the sea and sniff the ointment that soothed Jesus’ skin and lifted his heart.

I don’t know if these items will be there.  But I’m sure of one thing—the people who used them will be there.  The risk takers– Rahab who sheltered the spy; David slinging a stone; and Samson swinging a bone.  And Mary at Jesus’ feet…what she gave cost much, but somehow she knew what he would give would cost more!

Read more Grace for the Moment II

For more inspirational messages please visit Max Lucado.

http://www.maxlucado.com

Denison Forum – Meet a modern-day faith hero

Asia Bibi is a Pakistani wife and mother of five. She and her family were the only Christians in their village. Her fellow workers repeatedly urged her to convert to Islam.

In June 2009, she was harvesting berries with a group of other farmhands. She was asked to fetch water from a nearby well and stopped to drink with an old metal cup she found near the well. A Muslim neighbor angrily told her it was forbidden for a Christian to drink from a utensil used by Muslims. The woman condemned her faith and ridiculed her Lord.

Asia responded: “I believe in my religion and in Jesus Christ, who died on the cross for the sins of mankind. What did your Prophet Mohammed ever do to save mankind? And why should it be me that converts instead of you?”

Five days later, she and her family were beaten by a mob, then she was arrested for blasphemy. In November 2010, she was convicted and sentenced to death by hanging. She was put in solitary confinement while her husband appealed her conviction. Her family was threatened with death and forced to flee their village.

A Pakistani governor who supported her was assassinated; a government official who worked for her release was shot to death.

On Wednesday, the Pakistani Supreme Court acquitted Asia Bibi of blasphemy charges. However, protesters immediately took to the streets and the leaders of one Islamic group called for the judges to be killed. Roads, schools, and phone services were shut down in most parts of Pakistan today as protests continued across the country.

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