Root of Bitterness

Robert Charity: Smoky Mountains
Robert Charity: Smoky Mountains

When things aren’t going our way, and we’re praying for God to come through for us … and He doesn’t, it’s tempting to doubt His goodness, to question His justice, to become resentful and angry. It’s called a root of bitterness. (He 12:15)

Bitterness steals our joy and hope; it can spread quickly into others suffering with us.

Giving in to bitterness is accusing God of being unfaithful, unjust, missing a precious opportunity to glorify Him in faith when all seems lost. But why is this so tempting for us? What good ever comes of it?

No suffering is easy, but sinning in our pain always makes it worse. We’re saved by hope, so when we’re seeing rock bottom let’s do as David did: “But David encouraged himself in the Lord his God.” (1Sa 30:6)

Nothing’s too hard for Jehovah; every promise He’s ever made He’ll keep. He is perfectly just; He only allows evil in order to glorify Himself, and He will right all wrongs. (Is 4:4-5) Let’s count on His faithfulness and rejoice in Him, especially when it looks hopeless … that’s His specialty.

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Shield of Faith

In our spiritual journey do we feel more like a target than a soldier? Struggling to keep our joy only to find we’re constantly being taken down in worry, frustration, disappointment and fear? Perhaps we’re missing our shield.

Wildernessjpg
Patagonia, Argentina

Many helpful pieces comprise our armor, but none’s more essential in spiritual warfare than the shield of faith. (Ep 6:16)

Above all. Above our sword, above the girding belt, above the shodden feet, salvation’s helmet and the breastplate of righteousness … we must have our shield of faith.

Faith: knowing God is for us, because He says so. (Ro 8:31)

Faith: knowing, no matter what happens, that all things work together for good to us who love God, because He says so. (Ro 8:28)

There are many dangers, toils and snares in our homeward journey, yet God is faithful. Faith is knowing God sees the end from the beginning, that He’s able to keep us from falling, and that He’ll present us faultless before the presence of His glory with exceeding joy. (Jud 24-25)

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The Gospel Mystery

The good news of Messiah’s resurrection changed the world (Ac 17:6), shattering the worldview of thousands overnight. There’s been nothing else like it, either before or since.

WildFlowerSunriseThe Resurrection points us to an awesome mystery: Messiah Yeshua dealt with human sin, bearing all the sins of all believers (1Pe_2:24), paying their sin debt in full (Is 53:11) and securing their eternal salvation. But He also offers salvation to all (1Jn 2:2), calling all people to believe on Him and be saved. (Ac 17:30). It’s a mystery (Ep 6:19) how He effectually and infallibly saves only a few by dying for them, while also being the Savior of all, even those who ultimately perish. (1Ti_4:10)

I believe the answer lies in God’s infinitude: He’s outside time and space (2Pe 3:8), ever present in every moment of time. Whatever God does He’s eternally doing — He only died once (He 10:10) but He can die for anyone at any time, because He’s still there — dying on that cross. He’s always been there, and He always will be.

The atonement of Christ is limited to believers, but He’s offering it to all; He will save everyone who seeks Him (He 11:6) and make them a new creature. On this day of Firstfruits, where we celebrate His resurrection (1Co 15:23), let’s enjoy the mystery, and glory in our God! (1Co 1:31) He sure is amazing!

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Live by Faith

Faith is basic to spiritual life (He 11:6), but what exactly is it?

LiveByfFithFaith is supernatural confidence (Mk 11:22), absolute assurance (He 10:22), the absence of doubt about something. (Ja 1:6) It is so inexplicably complete and strong that it becomes in itself evidence of the veracity of its object. (He 11:1) It is distinct from desire and wishful thinking; it can only be stronger or weaker in terms of the scope of what is believed, not in the strength of the belief.

Faith is God’s gift enabling us to trust Christ for eternal salvation (Ep 2:8), to abound in hope (Ro 15:13) and to access the transforming power of God. (He 10:38) It is the flip side of repentance (Ac 20:21): God’s gift of full persuasion convincing us of truth.

When we lack faith, let’s follow the disciples’ example and ask God to increase our faith(Lk 17:5) He is able to glorify Himself in and through us. (Ep 3:20)

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Be Persuaded

Repentance is central to spiritual life (Ac_20:21), but exactly what is repentance?

Stairway2LightRepentance is God’s gift causing us to change our minds, to become convinced of truth (2Ti 2:25), or to be persuaded (Lk 16:30-31) such that our behavior changes from within. It’s different from confessing sin, admitting guilt, being sorry and trying to obey. (2Co 7:10) It’s a renewing in our heart, a new way of thinking, and only God can do it. (Ps 51:10,  19:13)

Repentance is what sets us free from the stranglehold of sin in our lives, delivering us from Satan’s power to hold us captive (2Ti 2:26), so we should immediately seek this gift whenever we find ourselves not acting, feeling, thinking or believing as we should (Is 55:6); any other response is loving our darkness instead of His light. (Jn 3:19) God never tells us to set aside time to repent … that’s like setting aside time to take antidotes; the longer we hold on to the poison of sin within us the more damage it does. Thinking any other way about repentance reveals we’re missing God in a big way.

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There Is No God?

Are we intimidated by atheistic claims that God is dead, that evolution is proven science? Do we hesitate to explore the facts, worried we might lose our faith? Are we afraid of being disdained as ignorant and superstitious?

Small-Magellanic-Cloud
Hubble: Small Magellanic Cloud

Scripture asserts that atheists are foolish and corrupt (Ps 53:1), implying God is easily found. Yet who can show this from facts and reason? Are we missing the obvious?

Here’s a 3-step proof that atheists are as God claims, from easily understood and readily verifiable facts:
[1] Establish atheists’ burden of proof; then prove atheism is unprovable.
[2] Establish atheists’ foolishness: Pascal’s Wager vs absurdity.
[3] Consider Moral Law: it transcends Nature, implying metaphysical reality.

Q.E.D. Done. Let’s talk: what’ve I missed?

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