30 Days of Cultivating Thankfulness Day 3: Root Repair – Bitterness

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Inspirational Thought of the Day:

People matter more than our lives being gratified by them.

Scripture of the Day:

Hebrews 12:15

“See to it that no one comes short of the grace of God, that no one be like a bitter root springing up and causing trouble, and through him many become defiled.”

Our faces bare our hearts. Bitterness is one of those character traits that can be spotted in an expression quite readily. It is not very attractive, either. Just sayin’. There is something about the look of having just ingested a lemon that says “UGLY”.

Where does it come from? Sometimes we can be offended by someone’s treatment of us and pride rises up within us. Or maybe we are let down by life’s circumstances in general. When we allow bitterness to germinate and spread as we contemplate whatever it is that we resent, we are in danger of letting bitterness overtake us.

If we allow bitterness to take root, it can affect our whole personality, lives and those around us, too. Sure enough, bitterness also squashes any remote thankfulness we might have, as we are too absorbed in whatever it is that we are dissapointed by.

But there is a way of escape and it is paved by choosing to love those we have become embittered by. People matter more than our lives being gratified by them. People will let us down from time to time, but perhaps our expectations are misplaced.

Recognizing negative thoughts is half the battle. Turning those bitter thoughts into gratitude takes dying to self and choosing to replace those thoughts with God’s truth. Taking captive thoughts that do not please God and replacing them with His Word begins to transform our minds and hearts to lives characterized by thankfulness.

Lord, thank You for Your Holy Spirit Who reveals attitudes that displease You. Help us to weed out what displeases You and to cultivate hearts overflowing with gratitude.

Worshipful Wednesday: Worshiping the Grumbles Away

Photo Credits: fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Photo Credits:
fishwithtrish.blogspot.com

Psalm 105:1-5

Give thanks to the LORD! Call on his name! Make known his accomplishments among the nations! 2 Sing to him! Make music to him! Tell about all his miraculous deeds! 3 Boast about his holy name! Let the hearts of those who seek the LORD rejoice! 4 Seek the LORD and the strength he gives! Seek his presence continually! 5 Recall the miraculous deeds he performed, his mighty acts and the judgments he decreed.”

Psalm 106:1, 7, 12,13, 20-25, 29, 35-45

Praise the LORD! Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, and his loyal love endures! 7 Our ancestors in Egypt failed to appreciate your miraculous deeds, they failed to remember your many acts of loyal love, and they rebelled at the sea, by the Red Sea. 12 They believed his promises; they sang praises to him. 13 They quickly forgot what he had done; they did not wait for his instructions. 20 They traded their majestic God for the image of an ox that eats grass. 21 They rejected the God who delivered them, the one who performed great deeds in Egypt, 22 amazing feats in the land of Ham, mighty acts by the Red Sea. 23 He threatened to destroy them, but Moses, his chosen one, interceded with him and turned back his destructive anger. 24 They rejected the fruitful land; they did not believe his promise. 25 They grumbled in their tents; they did not obey the Lord.  28 They worshiped Baal of Peor, and ate sacrifices offered to the dead.  29 They made the Lord angry  by their actions, and a plague broke out among them. 35 They mixed in with the nations and learned their ways.  36 They worshiped their idols, which became a snare to them. 37 They sacrificed their sons and daughters to demons. 38 They shed innocent blood – the blood of their sons and daughters, whom they sacrificed to the idols of Canaan. The land was polluted by bloodshed. 39 They were defiled by their deeds, and unfaithful in their actions. 40 So the Lord was angry with his people and despised the people who belong to him. 41 He handed them over to the nations, and those who hated them ruled over them. 42 Their enemies oppressed them; they were subject to their authority.  43 Many times he delivered them, but they had a rebellious attitude, and degraded themselves by their sin. 44 Yet he took notice of their distress, when he heard their cry for help. 45 He remembered his covenant with them, and relented because of his great loyal love. 

The saga of the broken down cars began to ebb away on nerves yesterday.  I confess I had a pity party.  Alright, I grumbled.  We are all entitled to a little grumbling every now and then, right?  Hmmm . . . maybe not.  I was praising Him in the storm on Monday and ready for the trial to be over by Tuesday.  Patient, aren’t I?  This morning I was so thankful for a correction in my attitude from a loving God.  His Word is just as effective and able to speak to us from a message spoken thousands of years ago to some other grumbling spirits . . .

The sea was parted for them to cross and God defended them like no other, but they were bummed over the food God provided.  While I have judged them in the past, the same whining and ingratitude can flow in my veins, IF I let it.

We were made to praise God.  Our hearts need to praise the living God, the One Who is far greater than ourselves.  We need to thank Him, sing to Him, boast about Him, seek Him and remember all that He has done for us.  This thankfulness expressed to God changes us.  But what if we don’t?  What if we choose to complain about what God has allowed in?  This passage truly is a sobering one and injects the fear of God in me.  When we do not praise God, we are not doing what we were created to do, but the consequences of ceasing to thank God at all times are devastating, as well.

The destruction of a people began because they failed to appreciate what God had done.  That simple.  They also forgot God – the One who made them.  They chose to focus on what they felt were unfair circumstances and replaced the glory of God for complaints about things that don’t matter in all of eternity.  Ultimately, they forgot how important it was to be a grateful people.  How do we fail to appreciate God?

Thinking we deserve more than what He has allotted to us is perhaps one of the chief causes.  I remember being caught off guard by a brother who, when I asked him how he was doing, he said to me “better than I deserve”.  I recognized in that moment the humility and grace to be able to say such a statement.  Could I say that with the same sincerity?

It is easy to be religious and say the typical statements associated with ascribing glory to God, but God knows our hearts.  The words fall flat when my being is not completely about bringing Him glory but is distracted, instead by bitterness, unforgiveness or irritation over our discomfort.

The root sin long ago and today is the same – a lack of thankfulness and not purposing in our hearts to be faithful to acknowledge the God Who gave us everything.  Like Jonah, who grumbled when God took away the vine He had previously provided, we must hold all that He gives us loosely and be thankful for all he has given and done for us, even when He chooses to remove the blessings He has provided, too.

God help us to see our need of Him.  How quickly our spirits can go from worshiping Him to making our worship a thing of mere duty.  Slowly time with Him can be crowded out and before you know it, gratitude is replaced with a distrust in God, if we are not careful.

The enemy is ready to take us down the lane of ingratitude.  He knows the ending result – our demise.  But we do have a choice, as powerful as emotions can be.  To be thankful even when the chips are down, to love even when someone has hurt us and to forgive as we have been forgiven.  These actions are catalysts for sincere worship and gratitude to our God, Who is so very worthy of our praise!

Lord, we take so much for granted.  Please forgive us for the many times we have chosen grumbling over gratitude.  Spur us on to worship You in all circumstances.

Division’s Conquest

Photo Credits: www.kkcj.org

Photo Credits:
http://www.kkcj.org

1 Corinthian 12:25

“So that there may be no division in the body, but the members may have mutual concern for one another!”

1 Corinthian 13:4-5

“Love is patient, love is kind, it is not envious.  Love does not brag, it is not puffed up. 5 It is not rude, it is not self-serving, it is not easily angered or resentful.”

Proverbs 18:19

“A brother offended is harder to be won than a strong city, And contentions are like the bars of a citadel.”

Dividing and conquering can be a great strategy when trying to accomplish a difficult task, but in the case of relationships and the body of Christ, divisiveness accomplishes destruction.  We are stronger when we are united.

One of the saddest things for me to see is when members within a church begin to devour one another.  When hard times hit a church is when true character is displayed in its members – it is also when we need one another the most.

An offended brother is like an unyielding city.  Forget whether or not their offense is legitimate or founded on truth.  Sometimes you can try to be a peacemaker and still receive abusive treatment from a bitter soul.  What then?

Love.  Recently someone spoke bitterly to me right before I was to lead worship.  I had a choice.  I chose love.  When I contemplated the actions later in prayer to God, He gave me compassion for this individual and the knowledge that their perception was misplaced.  I could leave it in God’s loving hands.  I could trade concern over my own hurt to concern over what really created the bitterness in this person’s soul.

I have been crushed in the past by words spoken with an intent to harm, but not this time.  By the grace of God alone, I did not think of self, but instead of the other person and gave it to my God, Who is fully capable of dealing with all hearts, including mine.  The result?  Peace.  Joy.  No anxiety.  This was a major victory and the evil one must have been bummed.

There is no case for self-righteousness, because we are all guilty.  We all hurt from time to time and all want affirmation, but our neediness is best filled by God, not looking to man to justify or accept us.  People will get mad from time to time.  That’s ok.  We cannot please everyone, and our ultimate audience is God alone.

More than being right is the need for the body of Christ to care for one another.  Brothers and sisters shepherding one another’s souls.  No agendas other than God’s glory.  Wouldn’t it be amazing if we all tried for that goal?  Division would quickly turn to multiplication instead . . . multiplied members, gratitude and joy.

Lord, help us to buildup one another and to put to death our hurt feelings which are birthed in pride.  May You be glorified in all circumstances in our lives and in Your church.