Saturday 27 January 2024

As we forgive those that trespass against us?

It does not matter if our anger, hurt or resentment is justified, it will eventually lead to bitterness if not forgiven
I asked the Lord what I should write my blog on this time and I felt He said ‘Bitterness’. It is not a subject that I would have normally thought of but having asked and then been given an answer, I am going to do my best to be obedient. 

Some of the words that are given in the definition of bitterness are these: showing and feeling pain or hurt; resentful; bearing a grudge, cynical. If you look at these words they can all be associated with unforgiveness.

People can hang onto bitterness and resentment for years and it does that person no good whatsoever. I knew a lady whose husband left her for someone else. She clung on to that bitterness for about 30 years, eventually visiting him regularly in his last months in a nursing home, where they became reconciled, leaving her at peace at the time of his death.

I read a story about a woman in her 90’s, who still told the story continually about her sister not giving her the dollar she needed to buy a pair of shoes, when they were younger. Every time she told it, she brought back the hurt and injustice on herself and could not let it go.

We, as Christians should have no place for bitterness in our lives. Satan loves bitterness, especially when he can influence us to hold on to it while thinking we are being righteous. It does not matter if our anger, hurt or resentment is justified, it will eventually lead to bitterness if not forgiven. We must not allow Satan to lie to us or even lie to ourselves about what we believe is our own righteous unforgiveness. There is nothing righteous about unforgiveness. The bitterness that comes from it may start small but it will take root if we let it and it will harden our hearts so that God cannot use us. We can look for other reasons, both real and imagined, why we should legitimately have this feeling towards the person that has caused us pain and with each piece of information that we accrue comes another layer of bitterness. 

Proverbs 17:22 says: A joyful heart is good medicine, but a broken spirit dries up the bones.

In other words the joy which comes from God acts as medicine, while a broken or bitter spirit will affect the body physically. It is like a poison. It has been proven, in patients, that often those who are the most joyful, recover the quickest. In his book  ‘None of These Diseases’ Dr. McMillen points out how bitterness, can consume a man both physically and mentally. He wrote "The moment I start hating a man I become his slave. I can’t enjoy my work anymore because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body and I become fatigued after only a few hours of work. The man I hate hounds me wherever I go. I can’t escape his tyrannical grasp on my mind.”

Romans 12:18 says, "If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone." But how do we do that? How can we make sure our initial hurt doesn’t turn into bitterness? Or when it does, how can we rid ourselves of it?

Well, firstly God requires it. In Ephesians 4:31-32 it says: Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.    

We don’t have a choice! You may not understand why the person did what he or she did but Jesus does. He suffered and died a terrible death so that we might be forgiven. He died too for whoever it was that offended you. You may feel that person does not deserve forgiveness, but do we? No, we don’t but Jesus did it anyway.

Secondly, we are called to pray for our enemies.
In Luke 6:27-28 it says: “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you." 

Instead of being bitter we have to try to pray for those who have hurt us. Our Pastor told us how he once started to pray for someone he was holding a grudge against. He said that after a short while he felt nothing but love for the person who had hurt him so badly.

We know that bitterness only harms the one who is bitter. The object of our resentment may be totally unaware of how we feel. If we let it, bitterness will depress and can get you to the point where you cannot even function normally. Edwin Markham (1852 – 1940), a great American poet learned this. When he reached the age of retirement, he found out that his banker had defrauded him out of a large sum of money. He was penniless. He became so bitter he could no longer even write poetry. He became so obsessed with wanting to get his own back on this man, that it became foremost in his mind every day and he could not function properly. He wrote that one day, in a depressed mood, he was sitting at his desk thinking about this banker who had stolen all of his money, when the Holy Spirit spoke to him and said, “Markham, if you do not deal with this thing, it is going to ruin you. You cannot afford the price you are paying. You must forgive that man.” Markham said, “Lord, I will forgive him, and I do freely forgive him.”

At that exact moment Markham said he could feel the root of bitterness being pulled out. Joy began to fill his heart, his mind became unshackled and he sat down and wrote one of his most famous poems entitled, “Outwitted.”

He drew a circle that shut me out
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout,
But love and I had the wit to win,
We drew a circle that took him in 

Bitterness usually comes about for of one of three reasons.

1. Because of what someone has said about us,
2. Because of what someone has done to us,
3. Because something has been taken from us.

Jesus talked about all three of these in His Sermon on the Mount. 

In Matthew 5:11 He says: “Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me.”

In Matthew 5:38-39 He says: “You have heard that it was said, ‘Eye for eye, and tooth for tooth.’ But I tell you, do not resist an evil person. If anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to them the other cheek also.”

In Matthew 5:40 He says: “ And if anyone wants to sue you and take your shirt, hand over your coat as well.” 

The Lord tells us clearly what we must do, however difficult it may be we have no choice but to get rid of our resentment and grudges and forgive as He forgave us. After all Jesus had every right to be bitter about the way He was treated and yet in His dying moments on the cross He said “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” How can we possibly not forgive. Let us seek the Lord so that we can truly say ‘Amen’ to the following prayer.

From pettiness and that desire
Which goads one to retaliate
With patience I would quench the fire
Of vengeance, ere it be too late
And in defeat may I cast out
The moods of envy and despair
And from my heart, Lord, I would rout
All bitterness. This is my prayer.

Lord, forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us. Amen.

Author: Thelma Cameron

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 20 January 2024

How Do You Walk Out Your Faith?

Abraham knew that if God said it, then it was, even if he couldn’t see it.

Hebrews 11:1 says ‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ (NIV).

Seek and Save the Lost
So how does this translate in our walk with God? Do we believe God when He makes clear what He wants us to do, and how do we demonstrate that?

James 2 tells us that it’s no good claiming we have faith unless it’s backed up by deeds. Verse 14 says ‘What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? And verse 18 says ‘But someone will say, ‘’You have faith; I have deeds.’’ Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’’

These scriptures and in particular chapter 4 of Romans have recently brought me to a decision that I can’t say I have faith in God unless I’m willing to believe Him and act on it, when He says He’s going to do something or makes it clear that He wants me to do something. Which may be to physically do something or to take it back to Him in prayer as a starting point.

A good example of this is found in the book of Romans when Paul is talking about the faith of Abraham in chapter 4 which is what we will look at now. He starts this chapter by asking a question. ‘What then shall we say that Abraham, our forefather according to the flesh, discovered in this matter? (Romans 4:1) A good question, so what did Abraham discover and how did he demonstrate it? 

Well for me the clue to this comes in verse 17b-21 ‘God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.’ 18 Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed and so became the father of many nations, just as it had been said to him, “So shall your offspring be. 19 Without weakening in his faith, he faced the fact that his body was as good as dead—since he was about a hundred years old—and that Sarah’s womb was also dead. 20 Yet he did not waver through unbelief regarding the promise of God, but was strengthened in his faith and gave glory to God, 21 being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised. (NIV).

The key is in these words ‘God who gives life to the dead and calls into being things that were not.’ Against all hope, Abraham in hope believed’ and ‘gave glory to God, being fully persuaded that God had power to do what he had promised.

Abraham knew that if God said it, then it was, even if he couldn’t see it. And against all hope he believed and because he not only believed but was fully persuaded that what God said would happen, because He had the power to make it happen, he gave Him glory. And the result was that God credited it to him as righteousness.

There in lies the example to us, but how often do we walk in such faith and how often are we willing to proclaim to people that something has happened even when it can’t be seen?

Let me give you an example of this in way of my paraphrased testimony, and by doing so I know I may be putting everything on the line, but I can’t write this blog and not, at least, try to live it.

Mountain Top Musings
At the beginning of May 2023 God clearly told me to treat Victory Hall in Castle Bromwich as a church plant, so I started to look at how I could do this. Since then, there have been a lot of ups and downs, twists and turns and a huge learning curve for me, but I now realise that God had a number of things to sort out first and also to get me to a point where I was ready to do it His way and His way alone. This includes God’s timing. 

You see when God gives a vision or instruction about something it doesn’t necessarily mean He wants it done straight away. Often there’s a preparation time, when you have to work out not only what God wants, but when He wants it done and how He wants it done.

At the end of 2023 when all that I'd tried to do didn't work, I finally surrendered to God and admitted I hadn’t got a clue what to do or how to do it, so I gave it all back to Him. It was then that God started to move me and has brought me back to the place of realising that He alone is enough for me and I’m to walk this journey as though it’s already happened just like Abraham did. This has released me to a place of freedom and peace.

So, I’m giving glory to God and have started preparing Victory Hall for its first meeting of the church plant, believing that God has already called and equipped those He wants to bring along side me on this journey.

Bottom line: we should walk as though what God has told us will happen, has happened, because He has the power to do what He says He will do, or what He has promised. As James puts it ’’Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds.’’

2 Corinthians 5:7 says ‘for we live by faith not by sight’. Is this true of our lives?

I am fully aware that walking in this way will take courage, but what have we got to lose? Our reputation maybe? If that’s all then I believe it’s worth it, because Jesus lost a lot more than that for us. So I guess we need to ask ourselves, what are we willing to give up for him?

Let me finish with the scripture I started with.

‘Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.’ (Hebrews 11:1 NIV). (Underlines added).

May God give you courage and bless you with the confidence and full assurance that you can indeed trust Him and walk by faith not by sight. Amen.

Author: Kevin Hunt

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 13 January 2024

Understand and Know the Lord

The only acceptable boasting is in that we understand and know the Lord
Idolatry has consequences. God called on Jeremiah to pronounce devastation, destruction and deportation for the people who were supposed to have faithfully served him, but who had gone after other gods while still expecting deliverance from the Lord. (Jeremiah 7) This was the sin of syncretism, the mixing of religious practices and the validation of other beliefs which contradict biblical truth.

The parallels with our own nation are plain to see. We live in a post-Christian era, as even the church has embraced post-modern values in which truth is no longer absolute, individualism overrides family and community, morality is negotiable, sin is redefined, style is rated higher than content, hedonism supercedes service, consumerism replaces commitment, and woke culture denies us the authority to challenge.

Jeremiah calls it 'perpetual backsliding' (8:5 ESV). He fiercely denounces the 'whatever' culture, though perhaps reading between the lines we detect an answer of 'meh' from his people. 'Meh', popularised amongst modern teens on social media, expresses indifference, apathy and boredom, though the word originated in the yiddish language. It portrays the people of God sated and satisfied by what the world currently has on offer, while idly eyeing up the next novelty.

Jeremiah challenges us with an example from nature (8:7). The land of Israel has many species of migrating birds passing through, each of which knows their time and direction to fly. Here too we know that when the swallows arrive from Africa, back to the very same nesting spot, that spring has come, and when the field fares arrive from Scandinavia, that autumn is here. So even the birds know their times...'but my people know not the rules (decrees/judgements) of the Lord.
The prophet laments: 'The harvest is past, the summer is ended, and we are not saved.' (8:20) Today through faith and by grace we have been saved, now included in the covenants of promise to Israel (Ephesians 2), and therefore we gentile believers also can and should know the rules, decrees and judgments of the Lord. 'For the grace of God has appeared, bringing salvation for all people, training us to renounce ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright, and godly lives in the present age.' (Titus 2:11)

So grace is no excuse for giving in to the influences of the world but rather instructs us how to reject and renounce them.

After yet more prophetic indictments through Jeremiah to a people who should have known the Lord's decrees, God gives a simple instruction:

Thus says the Lord: “Let not the wise man boast in his wisdom, let not the mighty man boast in his might, let not the rich man boast in his riches, but let him who boasts boast in this, that he understands and knows me, that I am the Lord who practises steadfast love, justice, and righteousness in the earth. For in these things I delight, declares the Lord.” (9:23-24)

Boasting is literally giving praise to ourselves, so we are to shift that praise to the only One who could ever deserve it. The only acceptable boasting is in that we understand and know the Lord. In the original Hebrew (sakal) means to be given insight and comprehension, therefore to understand something of the nature and character of God, who He is and how He works. But this is not enough, we are also to let it be known that we know (yada) the Lord, and the form in which this word appears implies personal acquaintance.  

Thank God for Jesus, who came that we might understand the ways of the Father through Him, and through whose life, death and resurrection we can have that personal relationship, living holy lives in the midst of a fallen world, in the power of the Holy Spirit.

Author: John Plumb

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.

Saturday 6 January 2024

Relax, rest and be renewed in God

What God ordains He sustains, we don't have to try and make it happen, because all things are in His hands, in this new year and forever
Flesh gives birth to flesh, but Spirit gives birth to Spirit.

If we want to see God's promise fulfilled in our lives this year, we need to learn not to rush things or we might give birth to Ishmael. Ishmael was born because Sarah tried to accelerate/orchestrate events, by thinking she was helping God out. Because of that consequence in Genesis 16, the whole world has been living with this mistake ever since.

We must be led by the Holy Spirit in everything at all times. Be sure that our plans are born of God's Spirit and God's will, do not try to salvage anything that is flesh based.

God said My covenant will I establish with Isaac (Genesis 17:21), whom Sarah shall bear to you at this time next year.  Isaac was born because of the result of God's will, done in God's way, in God's time.

Jesus said in John 3:6 "Flesh gives birth to flesh, but spirit gives birth to spirit". Everything that is conceived in us comes from one of two sources. The flesh or the spirit. People will try to involve you in all kinds of schemes to rescue and promote yourself, be led by the Holy Spirit. John 14:26 "but the helper the holy spirit whom the father will send in my name, he will teach you all things".
God has a plan and a purpose for our life, Jeremiah 29:11 "For I know the thoughts that I think towards you, says the lord, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope". For the time, and place, and seasons to bless us, because God will do whatever He says He will do and He never fails us. Matthew 24:35 Jesus said "Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will by no means pass away".

That is why, whenever satan attacks, we need to be able to point him to our spiritual birthplace and remind him that we were created in God's image, therefore we do not have to finish it. What God ordains He sustains, we don't have to try and make it happen, because all things are in His hands, in this new year and forever.

So today know when God is dealing with carnality, pride or any obstacle in your path of life, do not get in His way. Let us surrender our life, and our will, and be obedient to God's will and purpose, and let the Holy Spirit guide and teach us, do not try and get ahead of him, but be in step with the spirit. We need to try less and trust more, too often we  take  God's presence for granted, as stated in John 15:16 "You did not choose me, I chose you...". it's not God's job to follow after us, it is our job to follow Him, when we do we will find life in the spirit rewarding and fruitful, Philippians 1:6 Being confident of this very thing that he who has began a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ.

So this year let the Holy Spirit lead you in all things, relax and do not strive or struggle, the Lord will take you to good pasture.

May the Lord bless you with a prosperous new year in all that you commit to him in spirit and in truth in Jesus name, Amen.

Author: Herbie Jean

May God bless and enrich your life

Please feel free to share this article and other articles on this site with friends, family and others.