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Posts Tagged ‘purified’

BITTERNESS


KJV and NKJV Scripture

– Looking diligently, lest any fall of the grace of God. Lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled. – Hebrews 12:15

– Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking be put away from you – with all malice. – Ephesians 4:31

Bitterness towards life, or the Lord, arises out of false perceptions it brings that things aren’t quite working out how a person hoped they would at some prior point.  Notions of rewarding jobs, joyous marriages, riches, etc. – never materialized – and fault always lies with others (including God).  So, the bitter soul stews and simmers on, with unhealthy views of life.

However, instead of doing anything about it, often born out of a “why bother” mind, because nothing has really worked out before, the bitter person usually sits around a lot wallowing in self-pity.  Pointing critical, accusatory, and fault-finding fingers outward and skyward, but seldom back at themselves.  This type of blame game started back in the Garden of Eden.

All the while, bitterness slowly spreads like a spiritual toxin inside a soul.  However, it is hard to spot just by looking at a person, because a sweet smile on Sunday at church can hide a spirit soured by resentment the rest of the week.  Words spoken smoother than butter can mask bitterness in the heart (Psalm 55:21).  Still, God sees it all (1 Samuel 16:7, Hebrews 4:13).

Our Father cannot show anybody a more excellent and better way, if they should ever be in the galls of bitterness (1 Corinthians 12:31, Acts 8:23).  Why? Well, with God, it keeps people bound in the bonds of iniquity and sin (Acts 8:23).  Bitterness is any feeling He has dealt (or is dealing) unfairly or unjustly, and this isn’t possible (Ezekiel 33:20, Deuteronomy 32:4).

Everything past in our life is required by God, and it will be this way as long as we live (Ecclesiastes 3:15). However, how will He ever create a new path in the wilderness if we keep looking back over our shoulder in remembrance of the bad things from days gone by making us bitter now (Isaiah 43:18-19)?  Repeatedly rehashing them leaves little room for future hopes.

God will never cause us grief or afflict us willingly – there always a reason (Lamentations 3:32-33).  It’s just that we are not to know the times or seasons He has put in His own power (Acts 1:7).  Faith and belief says we trust in Him, and He knows what He’s doing – even if we don’t understand (Proverbs 3:5-6).  We either grow better from trials and troubles, or bitter.

Bitterness is also feelings of resentment with God – and there can be a wide variety of reasons why.  One could be some private displeasure about blessings He certainly seems to bestowing on others from above – when we think we are the ones showing Him much more love than they are – and that we should be the recipients.  It creates a sense of indignation inside us.

When these feelings of resentment get released out into the open, expressed in words or actions, it is how Christianity can start feeling like it is nothing more than a tense, stressful contest.  It becomes ungodly. There’s lack of contentment.  Believers start unwisely comparing and measuring aspects of their walk with God against those of others (2 Corinthians 10:12).

In turn, this creates an uneasy air of contention, and generates confusion God never authors (1 Corinthians 14:33).  It is a precursor to every evil work within the churches (James 3:14-16).  It births sinful pride and the evil rejoicing of boastings (James 4:16).  This is how believers become apostates by serving Satan more than God (Romans 1:25,30, 2 Timothy 3:1-2).

We are all prime candidates for bitterness, if we ever become weary of life, or in our walk with the Lord (Job 10:1).  Relationships, jobs, finances, Christianity, etc. – are not creating the better lives we hoped they would at their outset.  We can get to a point where we think “What’s the point?”  This is vanity – useless, a waste of time, and not producing desired results.

We have to be careful and prayerful our belief does not end up being in vain (1 Corinthians 15:2).  Bitter roots cannot possibly produce the spiritual fruits God commands us to continually bring forth – meet for repentance (Galatians 5:22-23, Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30).  Instead, they bring forth toxic, spoiled, and worldly fruits like resentment, anger, and envy.

Whatever the reasons for bitterness, they are all displeasing to God.  Bitterness prevents Christians from following peace and holiness with all men below heaven, and keeps them out because of it (Hebrews 12:14-15).  It breeds contention, birthed only from foolish pride (Proverbs 13:10), with others and Him. Contention creates conflict and friction – not peace.

Bitter Christians don’t think right thoughts (Philippians 4:8-9).  It means they cannot have victorious walks with Jesus in such vexed states of mind.  The final 13 paragraphs from the Charming Health website (with some personal additions and Scripture support) give an extensive and excellent description of bitterness, as well as the inner and outer damage it causes:

Bitterness is emotional suicide.  It’s like drinking poison, and then hoping the other person gets ill. People embroiled in bitterness have an incredible memory for the tiniest little details, and they wallow in puddles of self-pity and resentment.  They record every offense in their heart and head – more than ready to show others how much they have been hurt.

Bitter people defend and carry grudges constantly. They feel they have been hurt too deeply and too often, and think this exempts them from their need to forgive (Matthew 6:14-15).  Their hearts can overflow with so much resentment, they no longer have any capacity to love.  Bitterness takes their soul captive, consuming positive emotions, and robs them of joy.

Bitterness is frozen anger in latent form.  When it is manifested, it becomes a vicious malignancy making one extremely vulnerable to very unwise choices and decisions, developing destructive thought patterns infiltrating body and soul.  It saps the mind’s vitality. If allowed to fester unaddressed, bitterness can pave a path to seeking out vengeance and acts of violence.

Failure to confess and correct bitterness causes it to spread like a cancer no longer in remission.  Unlike a physical kind confined to just one body, bitterness is a spiritual kind infecting and sickening others.  It’s often expressed as anger, jealousy, dissatisfaction, or hate. It keeps focus below, on getting back or even, but not getting and staying on the narrow path to heaven.

It is true many life events can be unpleasant, causing grief and pain.  However, responding in any prolonged bitterness fuels more bitterness far down the road.  A reservoir of resentment is drawn upon over and over. It can be passed down to children and hold people in its vice-like grips.  It can even generate fiery, deadly feuds between families, like the Hatfields and McCoys.

Some of these events can be quite sudden, such as the literal loss of a loved one, or a source of income. Some are subtler, happening more slowly over time such as the loss of reputation, social status within a group, or control.  Regardless, they all sow and grow bitter roots and fruits.  Resentment and bitterness are unacceptable to God as they’re self-defeating and sin.

Existing bitterness in a Christian means they are not abiding side by side with God, so He can burn up the unrighteous roots producing such resentment (John 15:1-6).  These roots cannot bring forth anything but rotten fruits defiling a soul.  Some of them are guilt, arrogance, frustration, surmising, melancholy, sloth, and envy, creating instability in mind and spirit.

Extended bitterness produces physical ailments like insomnia, ulcers, anxiety, fear, depression, and heart attacks.  Mental consequences are hyper-critical views and attitudes about life.  Nobody can do things right (including God) except the bitter person.  Those who associate with such souls may sympathize for a time, but can end up avoiding them, lest they get drawn in.

Still, we are responsible for what we say, think, and feel.  God’s plan is to make us better so we can enter into heaven – not bitter so we cannot.  What makes people so bitter are worldly attitudes they develop growing up, and then carry in life towards situations and others.  As Christians, we’re being transformed by His truth, so old ways aren’t conformed to again.

Continuing in bitterness is not rooted and grounded in God’s love within through the power of the Holy Ghost (Ephesians 3:16-17).  It is building faith upon a faulty foundation (Luke 6:47-49, 1 Corinthians 3:11).  It is not repenting (Luke 13:3,5).  Perishing awaits, unless one is purified by obeying the truth through the Spirit, unto unfeigned and fervent love of all (1 Peter 1:22).

God cannot possibly work His good will and pleasure in bitter hearts (Philippians 2:13).  Those battling with Him and others in futile resistance to His ways, and in refusal to His voice (Hebrews 12:25).  It’s enough to wrestle against the rulers of darkness in this world (Ephesians 6:12), without having to get into bitter, resentful wars with heaven and the brethren as well.

If we are being humbly obedient to God (Philippians 2:8) we are submitting to His power inside us.  We are not to resist it (Romans 13:2), as it’s the only power we will ever get to put off all forms of malice (second lead verse).  External means or methods, including guidance from other Christians, cannot cure bitterness.  All they do is give place to the devil.

Characterized by hostility (not hospitality) bitterness brings forth unforgiving, sputtering, and backsliding spirits full of negative attitudes almost always plotting and scheming, along with grouchy and complaining mouths.  Love can certainly dispel it all, but it spells disaster if left uncorrected.  Satan’s job is to devour, destroy, and kill souls – exactly what bitterness does.

 

 

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.” – Luke 10:41

If we want to keep Christ in any Christmas, then we keep our love of this world’s things out of it (1 John 2:15).  Otherwise, it is just a catchy slogan about Jesus, without much truthful teeth behind it.  Some people may already be encumbered, perhaps even overcome with many misguided worldly thoughts and financial worries about this impending holiday season.

With hearts and heads already wrapped around the earthly hustle and bustle the last few weeks of each year can bring along with them.  Concluding with the arrival of Santa Claus on Christmas, when more visit emergency rooms than any other day.  When nerves finally get stretched out too far and too tight like an elastic band until they snap from all the strain.

Holidays can press upon a soul and create internal stress before beginning.  A barrage of Christmas ads before Thanksgiving may have already killed the so-called “holiday spirit” in many.  Still, a lot of people will likely feel they “have” to do all kinds of cooking and cleaning, send out cards, put up decorations, trim trees, and go visit special people – or have them visit.

It all harkens back to a story from Scripture about another special visitor.  No, it was not Jolly Ole St. Nicholas – but Jesus.  Christ had entered a certain village where two sisters named Martha and Mary received and welcomed Jesus into their home.  Right away, Martha set about in a whirlwind of busyness – encumbered with much serving around the house.

Most probably fixing a meal, doing some cleaning, and a bit of straightening up.  In the meantime, Mary simply sat at the feet of Christ, listening to the words God’s only Son had to say.  Well, it did not take long for Martha to get a little upset – because Mary wasn’t helping out.  Martha asked Jesus, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to serve alone?”

Christ answered her, “Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things.  But one thing is needful, and Mary has chosen the good part which shall not be taken away from her (Luke 10:38-42).”  Matthew Henry once wrote, “Martha was for much serving; plenty, variety, and exactness.  Worldly business is a snare; keeping God’s Word from getting to our souls.”

Every season of Noel can bring mind-numbing and discordant noises not in harmony with heaven, nor in tune with His truth.  Along with laundry lists of what people think they “have” to do – trying to keep as many people pleased as possible (Galatians 1:10).  It can be exhausting if our heart is not right with God. Keeping up appearances; trying to seem “merry.”

Instead of sitting at the feet of Jesus like Mary and hearing what God’s Son has to say (Luke 6:46).  So, if we want to keep Christ in each Christmas, we keep the Word in it – and throughout our lives.  Otherwise, we’re always in danger of being overcome by bondage again to worldly clocks and calendars – observing days, months, times, and years (Galatians 4:9-10).

“The Christmas Guest” is a poem by Helen Rice.  It is about an old widowed man who owned a shop … and who almost missed the message of the season.  As the cock was crowing on Christmas morning, he was told by the Lord to expect His visit that day.  He had been busy getting everything “just right” like Martha did for Jesus.  Now, he waited to hear footsteps.

Sitting quietly inside his festively decorated shop, he listened carefully for any noise outside his window – not wanting to miss the knock heralding the arrival of Jesus.  However, Christ never showed up … or did he? The man rose in anticipation each time he heard a sound outdoors, soon followed by a knock.  Each time, he opened the door to three different visitors.

The first was a shabby beggar clad in ragged clothes looking for better shoes and a warm coat.  After he left, an old woman showed up a short time later, cold and looking for some hot food – and a place to rest (Luke 3:11).  The third visitor was a lost child who had wandered away from her home too far.  Each time the old man helped with a joyful and glad heart.

However, it was now getting very late and he was getting very worried.  Where was Jesus?  Heading off to bed thinking he had misunderstood the message about the promised visit, he prayed for an answer. Jesus replied, “Three times my shadow crossed your floor – three times I came to your lonely door.  For I was the beggar, the woman, and the child.”

The old man had not entertained angels disguised as strangers unaware (Hebrews 13:2), but Jesus himself. The cock crowed that Christmas morning.  However, he did not deny Jesus three times like Peter did – but had acknowledged Christ thrice (Matthew 26:34,75). Will we do the same this season, or will our worldly whirlwinds keep getting in the way (Hosea 8:7)?

Keeping Jesus Christ in our life at all times begins with keeping Jesus Christ in our hearts at all times. We can’t do this without being born again of the Spirit (John 3:5).  So when times like holidays roll around, we don’t put on a show of Christianity.  Rolling our eyes around in our heads as we put on phony smiles and false fronts, or speak fake words of love.

When we receive the gift of the Spirit from above, we become rooted and grounded in His love (Ephesians 3:16-17).  We are returned to the Shepherd of our soul (1 Peter 2:25).  We receive a firm anchor for our spirit (Hebrews 6:19) so we don’t drift to and fro with this world’s motions (Ephesians 4:14) – all entangled in its deceits or cares (Mark 4:19, 1 Peter 5:7).

So production of spiritual fruits He commands begins, as we grow up in His grace (Matthew 3:8, Acts 17:30, Galatians 5:22-23, 2 Peter 3:18).  So we can show all others and God we are learning Christ from the inside out (Ephesians 4:20-32).  So our love is purified as it flows fervently and unfeigned to all, and is no longer purposeful lust (1 Timothy 1:5, 1 Peter 1:22).

So our hospitality is without grudging (1 Peter 4:9). So our charity is cheerful as purposed in our hearts – not out of worldly wants or desires to get something back while on earth (Psalm 23:1, Matthew 6:8, Luke 6:35, 2 Corinthians 8:12-14, 2 Corinthians 9:7).  So God’s grace becomes sufficient always; so the power of Jesus may rest upon us (2 Corinthians 12:9).

Otherwise, keeping Christ in Christmas, or any other season is nothing but a catchy slogan about Jesus with little truthful belief of His Word behind it.  This creates spiritual spikes and dips depending on what calendars dictate.  Leaving holes in the heart to fill up again after holidays are over, unless Jesus and God have truly been there all along (Ephesians 3:19).

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– For neither at any time did we use flattering words, as you know – not a cloak of covetousness.  God is witness. – 1 Thessalonians 2:5

– For I know not to give flattering titles.  In doing so, my Maker would soon take me away. – Job 32:22

Flattery is the handing out of insincere praise and compliments.  It is often excessive – and frequently spoken or written to further one’s own interests.  If present, it can appear as if one person is falling all over another with lots of effusive words like “Wow!” – or “That’s incredible!” – or “You’re simply amazing!”.

One-time usage of such can certainly help uplift and encourage another person who has been down for a while.  However, if this gushy and demonstrative talk becomes a regular practice – something a little more serious and ungodly is taking place.  We are trying to hide such sinful things as covetousness (lead verse).

God tells us we should certainly exhort each other daily, lest we be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).  Flattery is a sin.  It is one person showing partiality or playing favorites with somebody else … even among family, friends, or members of a faith (1 Timothy 5:21, James 2:1-4).

It is a fake and feigned attempt to obtain or maintain worldly admiration or advantage.  Sometimes, it is speaking great swelling words, telling other people how swell they are in order to accomplish this (Jude 1:16).  However, he who speaks flattery to his friends – even the eyes of his children – shall fall (Job 17:5).

Flattery is very dangerous because it can be spoken within churches (Ezekiel 12:24) – and/or directed at God.  It is the sign of a having a double-heart or mind – and it’s a mark of spiritual instability (Psalm 12:2, James 1:8).  It points to a heart not purified (James 4:8).  Flattering mouths work ruin (Proverbs 26:28).

When the Israelites were led through the wilderness, they kept sinning and did not believe God for all His works.  After He slew some – the rest returned to seek their Rock early each day.  It did not last.  They went right back to flattering God with their mouths – lying to Him with their tongues (Psalm 78:32-36).

Paul carefully avoided giving appearances of playing favorites or falling all over people with flattery.  God placed trust in him to speak words becoming sound doctrine (1 Thessalonians 2:4, Titus 2:1).  So it would never seem as if Paul was flapping his gums in any semblance of flattery just to sound good or godly.

God is long-suffering towards all of us.  Not willing that any should perish, but to come to repentance (2 Peter 3:9).  Practicing flattery is not the truth.  It is not repenting as commanded (Acts 17:30).  Every Christian should know better not to speak with proud or flattering lips God promises to cut off (Psalm 12:3).

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KJV and NKJV Scripture

– And every man that strives for the mastery is temperate in all things.  Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. – 1 Corinthians 9:25

– For He is like a refining fire and a fuller’s soap.  And, He shall sit as a refiner and purifier of silver, and He shall purify the sons of Levi, and purge them as gold and silver – that they may offer unto the Lord an offering in righteousness. – Malachi 3:2-3

In order for it to perform as designed, steel has to first be treated with heat at various temperatures depending on what it is to be used for.  Flexible and bendable steel used in things like metal springs or hoses is exposed to hotter degrees.  This is a type of refining process called tempering.  It is so the steel in these instances of being treated with higher heat can withstand years and years of use and abuse.

Although the outer surface might get dinged up or dented quite a bit along the way, the steel won’t snap or break because of improper tempering.  It’s able to serve according to its intended purpose for a long time.  Another type of refining heat process burns away impurities called dross from precious metals such as silver and gold.  If not, they wouldn’t be as pretty to look at, nor have much value or worth.

Well, we are all valuable and worth more than gold to God.  It’s just we are all born with a lot of dross and untempered hearts.  This is why must be born again (John 3:5) at some point before we die, for there is no other way for our Father to refine us with His fire, except from within.  We have many worldly impurities for Him to purge – and frail, flawed, infirm flesh to temper and strengthen (Psalm 39:4, Romans 6:19).

We can’t do any of this with an external power we are never given by God to begin with (John 19:11, Acts 17:28).  However, if we have already received the Holy Ghost upon being born again, it was a baptism of fire (Matthew 3:11).  We should remember feeling it inside instantly when God shed His love abroad in our dark hearts back then, commanding His light to shine out from them (Romans 5:5, 2 Corinthians 4:6).

Since that time, we have had a spiritual blaze burning inside our body.  This is God’s refining fire.  We have to constantly keep it stirred up so that nothing of the world quenches it (2 Timothy 1:6, 1 Thessalonians 5:19).  Subsequently, if we humbly obey God unto death (Philippians 2:8), and abide with Him side-by-side until then, He will purge and burn up all roots and branches of unrighteousness (John 15:1-6).

Even still, we should never think it strange concerning any fiery trial God uses to try us (1 Peter 4:12).  They are to teach us suffering like Christ endured (1 Peter 4:13), to work patience (James 1:3), and purify our hearts by faith (Acts 15:9).  All trials are required by God (Ecclesiastes 3:15).  All of them must have an earthly and eternal purpose as He will never grieve or afflict us willingly (Lamentations 3:32-33).

Still, trials are never joyous (Hebrews 12:11).  Just as there can be heated ones in a human courtroom, the same kinds can be handed down from heaven.  Some can make us feel like we have been tossed into a fiery furnace of affliction for far too long at times (Isaiah 48:10).  However, raging against God with railing accusations of Him not being fair is not the way to cool things down (2 Kings 19:27, Ezekiel 33:20).

Accepting by faith our Father is trying to temper, refine, and purify our soul from the inside out, and acknowledging Him in all ways as we walk through the fire of trials (Proverbs 3:6), is a far better way to not get burned.  If we fully believe as those young Jewish men thrown into an actual furnace did, God will walk by our side through the flames, so we can emerge without even being singed (Daniel 3:10-27).

Tried by His holy refining fire, strengthened within and tempered by the power of His heavenly might (Ephesians 3:16-17), and souls purified with heat like precious silver and gold in His sight.  So we can stand fast and firm in our faith (1 Corinthians 16:13) – yet remain flexible and bendable enough to bear years of potential abuse and accusations from those who still resist or refuse the truth (2 Corinthians 11:4).

Unless we go back and follow worldly gods after each refinement.  We will know if we’re still minding earthly matters and setting affections on them (Philippians 3:19, Colossians 3:2).  Our conversation will follow (Exodus 23:13), with corrective consequences to consider.  God may have to turn up the temperature knob on His refinery of affliction (Daniel 3:19), so we learn lessons now and don’t get burned forever.

 

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