godly

Don't Let Bitterness Take Root

The social and political world we live in doesn't tend to promote peace or godliness. It grieves me to see the contentious banter expressed in social media and in network news media.

I'm really grieved by the vitriolic exchanges between Christian believers who have differing opinions. None of that honors God and it certainly doesn't make being a Christian attractive to non-believers.

It does take effort to live at peace with others and to live a life that honors God. But the secret isn't more discipline and self-effort, although self-control is an attractive and valuable virtue.

The transforming power of God's grace or kindness is the key. God's grace at work in our hearts keeps things like bitterness, envy, and greed from corrupting us. A holy life is one that chooses God as the ruler of our life rather than emotions or circumstances.

Scripture

Try to live peacefully with everyone, and try to live holy lives, because if you don’t, you will not see the Lord. Make sure that everyone has kindness [grace] from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow up to cause trouble that corrupts many of you. [vss 14-15]
Make sure that no one commits sexual sin or is as concerned about earthly things as Esau was. He sold his rights as the firstborn son for a single meal.
You know that afterwards, when he wanted to receive the blessing that the firstborn son was to receive, he was rejected. Even though he begged and cried for the blessing, he couldn’t do anything to change what had happened. [vss 16-17]
(Hebrews 12:14-17 GW) [Context– Hebrews 12]

Key phrase—

Make sure that everyone has kindness [grace] from God so that bitterness doesn’t take root and grow

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scriptures above as you answer the following questions

  • What two things are we to try and do? How do you think this is possible?

  • What is needed to prevent bitterness from taking root and growing in our lives?

  • How does the example of Esau's remorse illustrate what two things we are to avoid?

  • Is there a difference between remorse like that of Esau and true repentance?

Reflection...

Relationships are always important. Our priority is to have a genuine relationship with God through faith [trust] in His Son. And Jesus made it clear that our relationships with others are a vital priority in our relationship with Him.

This is why we are to live at peace with one another, to be gracious and not bitter with one another. Nor are we to be greedy or selfish because these attitudes damage our relationships.

A holy life is one dedicated to the Lord and His purpose for our life. It's not about being good but allowing God's grace and goodness to transform our hearts. This is how God brings change in our life that others see.

Repentance is not the same as remorse. A remorseful person feels sorry for themselves and the consequences of their actions. Repentance requires a change of heart and turning to God to seek out His grace and goodness and restoration.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again as you consider and answer these questions

  • How are the first two exhortations related to the issue of bitterness taking root and growing in our heart?

  • What is needed to keep bitterness from growing in our hearts towards God and others?

  • What do you find most difficult in dealing with bitterness in your heart?

  • Are living at peace with others and living a godly life personal priorities for you?

©2017—Word-Strong


Here's a free introduction for the book of Hebrews— Intro to studying Hebrews

Government Upon His Shoulders

It is easy to lose focus and perspective when we get absorbed in one line of thought. Absorbed in a cause, a challenge, a debate, or an impassioned view of an issue. When you see the word government what comes to mind?

Are you concerned about a new presidential administration or the state of our nation? How about wars and refugees? Violence seems to pop up all over the world and our nation is not immune to it. Concerns about the economy, international trade, and jobs, international unrest, immigration, freedoms and rights all come to mind. 

But all of these are issues and concerns of human government. As you read this on Christmas Eve or Christmas Day, you might be wondering, "What kind of Christmas message is this?!" "How about something uplifting and hopeful?" Exactly my point!

Is There Anything New Under the Sun?

As a nation, we Americans (USA) thrive on what's new. It seems to be the engine of our economy, and the goal of our pursuit of happiness. Businesses and social networks are dedicated to our pursuing this elusive pursuit of happiness.

The news media wait like vultures for the latest tragedy, disaster, or terrorist attack, then flood us with repeated images and sound bytes. Commercials tout the latest and greatest clothing style, car, or big-meal-deal that we must go out and buy. I mean, how can we live without such things?

And yet, more people than ever are medicated for depression and anxiety, while suicide rates soar. Our collective pursuit of happiness is an elusive, never-ending effort, which leaves most people empty-handed. And yet, it's nothing new. Ancient wisdom tells us this.

Scripture

The words of the spokesman, the son of David and the king in Jerusalem. “Absolutely pointless!” says the spokesman. “Absolutely pointless! Everything is pointless.” What do people gain from all their hard work under the sun? Generations come, and generations go, but the earth lasts forever. [vss 1-3]

The sun rises, and the sun sets, and then it rushes back to the place where it will rise [again]. The wind blows toward the south and shifts toward the north. Round and round it blows. It blows in a full circle. All streams flow into the sea, but the sea is never full. The water goes back to the place where the streams began in order to [start] flowing again. [vss 4-7]

All of these sayings are worn-out phrases. They are more than anyone can express, comprehend, or understand. Whatever has happened before will happen [again]. Whatever has been done before will be done [again]. There is nothing new under the sun. 10 Can you say that anything is new? It has already been here long before us. [vss 8-10]

I thought to myself, “I have grown wiser than anyone who [has ruled] Jerusalem before me. I’ve had a lot of experience with wisdom and knowledge.” I’ve used my mind to understand wisdom and knowledge as well as madness and stupidity. [Now] I know that this is [like] trying to catch the wind. With a lot of wisdom [comes] a lot of heartache. The greater [your] knowledge, the greater [your] pain. [vss 16-18]

(Ecclesiastes 1:1-10; 16-18 GW) [Context– Ecclesiastes 1]

Key phrase— There is nothing new under the sun

[bctt tweet="There is nothing new under the sun"]

Digging Deeper...

What do you see as the main thought of all these verses?

What is the main reason for "the spokesman" saying these things?

Have you had similar thoughts as these? If so, why?

What does this spokesman (King Solomon) say about gaining all of his wisdom?

Reflection...

Could it be we are looking for the wrong kind of happiness, in the wrong places, and in the wrong way? This is the point, more or less, of the book of Ecclesiastes. King Solomon was considered the wisest man on earth (1 Kings 4:29-34). Important people from around the world came to hear his wisdom, such as the Queen of Sheba who tested his wisdom (2 Chronicles 9:1-8).

He amassed great wealth, hundreds of wives and concubines, was well-learned, and yet he viewed all of it as pointless. What would bring him to that view of life? Well, there's more to the story than that, and more to the wisdom found in Ecclesiastes.

This book is written in an ancient philosophical form called speculative wisdom. It can also be seen as a foil—a contrast—between worldly and godly wisdom. In coming studies, we'll revisit these thoughts, so keep updated on these studies posted on Fridays.

Make it personal...

Read through the Scripture text again to consider and answer the following questions

Do you ever feel life is pointless? If so, what brings you to that place?

What makes you happy? What is most important in your life?

What are ways you find to break the routine of life?

How do you keep a positive view of life, when it seem monotonous and pointless?