peace

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!

Thanksgiving and National Harmony

As we approach this Thanksgiving holiday weekend, many people are thankful the presidential election is over. Not everyone is happy about the outcome, as evidenced by protests in some cities.

Some, maybe most of us, are just glad this contentious presidential campaign finally came to an end. Now we wait to see what the next year will bring.

Our Touchpoint

An important part of counseling at any level, for whatever the need may be, is trust. Often, what builds trust is when we know a person identifies with our situation and knows what we're going through.

Peer counseling in self-help groups, even with Christian fellowship, can be reassuring because of shared experiences in life.

In matters of faith, we also need to have similar assurances. This is an important reason for Jesus, God's Son, becoming human to live among us.

Curse or Contentment?

I grew up in a beautiful area along the Pacific Coast of Southern California. I lived in an area of immense wealth, even though our family was not wealthy. We rented, while my friend's families owned their homes.

If I wanted what my friends had, I worked for it. I valued what I had even though it was much less than what my friends enjoyed.

I've lived overseas in SE Asia and seen the great disparity between the "haves and have-nots." It's a big gap. And yet, I've seen greater contentment and happiness among the poor than among the wealthy.

This isn't to say the poor don't long for a life of ease and wealth. They do. And yet, their lives are often filled with more peace and contentment than those they envy. It's ironic.

Scripture

Whoever loves money will never have enough money; Whoever loves wealth will not be satisfied with it. This is also useless. The more wealth people have, the more friends they have to help spend it. So what do people really gain? They gain nothing except to look at their riches. [vss 10-11]

Those who work hard sleep in peace; it is not important if they eat little or much. But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep. I have seen real misery here on earth: Money saved is a curse to its owners. They lose it all in a bad deal and have nothing to give to their children. [vss 12-14]

People come into this world with nothing, and when they die they leave with nothing. In spite of all their hard work, they leave just as they came. This, too, is real misery: They leave just as they came. So what do they gain from chasing the wind? All they get are days full of sadness and sorrow, and they end up sick, defeated, and angry. [vss 15-17]

I have seen what is best for people here on earth. They should eat and drink and enjoy their work, because the life God has given them on earth is short. God gives some people the ability to enjoy the wealth and property he gives them, as well as the ability to accept their state in life and enjoy their work. They do not worry about how short life is, because God keeps them busy with what they love to do. [vss 18-20]

(Ecclesiastes 5:10-20 NCV) [Context– Ecclesiastes 5]

Key phrase—Those who work hard sleep in peace...But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep.

[bctt tweet="Those who work hard sleep in peace...But rich people worry about their wealth and cannot sleep."]

Digging Deeper...

Review the Scripture text above as you answer the following questions—

What are two or three specific things said about those who have and love wealth?

Who seems to enjoy rest and sleep more—those with much or those with little? Why?

What is the status of all people at birth and death? What is the pursuit of wealth likened to?

What seems to be the key to enjoying life regardless of their status in this life?

Reflection...

Americans enjoy a high standard of life, especially compared to much of the world. Even our poor, especially those on government assistance, enjoy a higher standard of living compared to most of the world's population.

And yet, with all we possess and have access to, some very simple things seem elusive. Americans spend millions, maybe billions, on supplements and drugs to help them sleep, calm their nerves, and lift their spirit.

Sleeplessness, anxiety and depression are plague-like conditions for millions. Why? As a nation, we seem unable to attain satisfaction or contentment. Perhaps we need to stop chasing after what we don't have, and enjoy what we do have, along with enjoying what we do in daily life.

As mentioned in Ecclesiastes, like a dog who chases its tail, we need to stop "chasing the wind."

Make it personal...

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

What in particular causes you to lose sleep? Do you realize what causes you anxiety or worry?

When was the last time you had a good night sleep? Do you experience more inner peace or stress?

Have you ever gotten something you longed for only to be disappointed with it?

How do you escape or deal with the cares and desires of your life? Is it in a healthy or unhealthy way?