The Toxin of Bitterness…

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Ephesians 4:31-32 (KJV)

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

32 And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.

Picture a miserable, depressed, and emotionally broken person hunched over a chemistry set.

His eyes are narrow. His lips are pursed. His fingers are methodically adding just a pinch of this and a dash of that to the acrid green fluid in the test tube before him. His thoughts are a hodgepodge of outdated images, his heart a stale mosaic of hatred for a grievance long past. He is thinking of the one who hurt him, and he is busy concocting a poison for the offender.

It sounds like an excerpt from an old movie, doesn’t it?

However, here is where the scene changes direction. Envision that same obsessed scientist breathing a sigh of relief as he straightens up, marveling at the liquid vengeance he has created.

Then he utters, “This will show him!”—and drinks the poison himself.

That’s a surprising twist—one that we would not expect in a movie.

Yet there is a good chance you have done this very thing at one time or another.

Bitterness is a toxin that we prepare for someone else but then drink ourselves. It is a concentrated dose of emotional poison, often one that we carefully nurture and grow over the course of years. When we react to someone’s wrongdoing by withdrawing and giving free reign to daydreams of retribution and ill will, we are slowly poisoning our own hearts and minds.

Ask God to reveal any signs of poison in your system. Then ask Him to help you administer a dose of the antidote: forgiveness.

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The Path Of Understandable Mistakes…

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Psalms 51:6 (KJV)
Behold, thou desirest truth in the inward parts: and in the hidden part thou shalt make me to know wisdom.

REPENTANT people realize that inexcusable wrong can either be judged or forgiven, never understood and overlooked, and so they beg for forgiveness with no thought of deserving it.

Truly repentant people are the ones who begin to grasp God’s amazing grace, the ones who know that they need only confess to experience the forgiveness that is always in infinite supply.

Whether we are adulterers or thoughtless mental thieves, the problem with all of us is that we stubbornly regard our interpersonal failures not as inexcusable self choices, but as understandable mistakes.

The things our friends and loved ones do to us seem more like the former whereas the things we do to them seem more like the latter.

Excuse-making has been a natural tendency in people ever since Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed the snake. Without some means of self-justification, we would be forced to face ourselves squarely as we really are… corrupt by God’s standards and deserving punishment.

And seeing ourselves as we are would mean taking our place as condemned sinners, worthy of judgment, powerless to improve ourselves, bumbled that our very best deeds provide no defense to our behavior and thoughts, and we would utterly be at the mercy of a rightworthy angry Judge.

However, this doesn’t sound like much fun to most of us… so we begin to justify…

Surely the path to the top would never begin with a descent this steep! How can joy emerge from such misery and self examination!

Perhaps the hardest thing to get through our brain-damaged heads (this damage probably going back to when Adam fell, he must have fallen on his head) is that this painful point of nakedness and humility is not only where life begins, but also where joyful spiritual growth germinates, blossoms and thrives.

It is through this humbleness that we begin to take a true inventory of our lives… including who we “really are” and understand that God has a greater plan for us and if we follow the plan the fruits of His words are bountiful and precious.

Psalm 51:1-4 (KJV)

Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy loving  kindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin. For I acknowledge my transgressions: and my sin is ever before me. Against thee, thee only, have I sinned, and done this evil in thy sight: that thou mightest be justified when thou speakest, and be clear when thou judgest

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When We Were Yet Without Strength…

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Romans 5:6-11 (KJV)

6 For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.

8 But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.9 Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.10 For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

11 And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.

What do you think about when you see a depiction of Christ on the cross?

Most of us are overwhelmed by the physical and emotional suffering that He endured—the scourging, beating, thorns, nails, mocking, and shame. We are horrified at the cruelty of the Romans and the hard hearts of the Jewish rulers.

But during the crucifixion, far more was happening than the eye could see. God was carrying out His plan to rescue mankind, providing everything we need for salvation:

1. Redemption – Jesus paid the full price of the debt we owed for transgression: death. His payment set us free from bondage to sin.

2. Forgiveness – God could now release us from the punishment we deserved.

3. Propitiation – Christ’s payment satisfied the Father by fulfilling His demand for justice while letting Him forgive us.

4. Justification – On the basis of Jesus’ sacrifice, the Lord now declares believers not guilty. Although we will still sin in this earthly life, our standing before God is one of righteousness. This is a legal declaration that can never be reversed.

5. Reconciliation – The sin barrier that separated us from the Father was removed by Christ’s death on our behalf. We’re now God’s children—we have open access to Him and fellowship with Him.

The crucifixion was the only way to rescue lost humanity. If there had been any other way, the cross would have been a grotesque display of divine cruelty. But because so much was at stake, it can truly be called…

…the GREATEST act of love by both the Father and the Son.

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