Bible, Bitterness, Blessing, Confession, Destruction, Encouragement, Forgiveness, Goodness, Submission

BITTERNESS

MICAH 1:12 

“For the inhabitant of Maroth waits for something good, because a disaster has come down from the LORD to the gate of Jerusalem.” 

Some people are just plain bitter. They don’t like anyone or anything. They seem to revel in their bitterness. When someone asks them about it, they say, “Well, that’s just the way I am.” God made me that way.” I don’t think so.  

Why do I mention bitterness? Because “Maroth” which is mentioned in today’s verse, means bitterness. So, you have bitter people expecting something good from God. They didn’t want the God who is good. They only wanted the good things. What happens? Disaster falls upon them. 

Oh, what a lesson for us today. If we walk around bitter all the time because life didn’t turn out like we thought, we cannot expect to receive God’s blessings. God is not in the business of blessing those who are not walking with Him. If we complain about not receiving God’s blessings, we can expect not to receive them. 

APPLICATION 

God is watching us and just waiting to bless us. He wants to bless us. Look around you today at the parents who are constantly giving their kids stuff regardless of their behavior. What do those kids act like? Little hellions! That’s right, I said it.  

God will not allow us to turn out that way because of His actions. Everything He does is perfect and good. He will bless you, but only as you submit to His will and His leadership. Then the blessings flow. Oh, what joy fills the heart of the Father when He blesses His children. Let go of the bitterness. 

Lord, wipe away all bitterness in my life. I want to please You and not just to get the blessings. I do it because I love you. 

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Agreement, Anger, Arguing, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Disciplemaking, Following, God's Will, Obedience, Scripture, Submission, Surrender

ARGUING WITH GOD

JONAH 4:9

“But God said to Jonah, ‘Do you have a good reason to be angry about the plant?’ And he said, ‘I have good reason to be angry, even to the point of death!’”

I have met people who just like to argue. It does not matter what it is about. They just like to argue – the weather, politics, religion, the taste of sweet tea (lol). Some things are worth arguing about. Maybe I should change “argue” to “discuss” here. Either way, some things merit a conversation, but one thing is for sure – you cannot out argue God.

Look at today’s verse again. Jonah is actually arguing with God about his right to be angry. We discussed anger earlier, but here Jonah is once again stating his right to God to be angry about what He has done. Let me ask you a question. Do you think Jonah is going to win this argument? Of course, not. But he has every right to speak up. God is big enough to handle it.

APPLICATION

I agree that we need to learn to submit our wills to His will. There really is not another way to live the Christian life successfully. However, God knows us better than we do. He knows when we question His will what our motive(s) is(are). So, it is okay to “argue” with God, as long as you do not think you are going to win.

We have to keep in mind that His thoughts are way above our thoughts. He sees our life, past, present and future. He could tell us what is coming if He chose to do so. Most of the time, He does not. That means we have to trust Him, even if we disagree with Him. God’s feelings are not hurt by our questions. He is big enough to handle anything we throw at Him.

I am sure you can think of something right now that you would have chosen to handle a different way. I would have chosen to learn about the eternal things of God without going through my last stem cell transplant. But God chose that to teach me. Did I like it? Did I argue a little with God? Yep, sure did. In the end, I submitted to His will. How about you?

Lord, I do not always agree with You, but I know You are right. Help me trust You from the beginning.

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Abiding, Accountability, Advice, Asking, Bible, Bitterness, Deceit, Forgiveness, God's Will, Mercy, Scripture

RATIONALIZATION

JONAH 4:2

“Then he prayed to the LORD and said, ‘Please LORD, was this not what I said when I was still in my own country? Therefore, in anticipation of this I fled to Tarshish, since I knew that You are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abundant in mercy, and One who relents of disaster.’”

Rationalization! Do you know what that means? It is “the action of attempting to explain or justify behavior or an attitude with logical reasons, even if these are not appropriate.” People do it all the time. I have seen people rationalize drunk driving (well, I had to get home where I would be safe). People use it to justify their anger (If he/she wouldn’t act that way, I wouldn’t get mad).

Jonah is rationalizing his anger. He thinks he is justified in his anger. He is basically saying, “God, I told you so. I knew You would be merciful.” Jonah wanted these people gone. Remember, they were the enemy of Israel. They were hated by Israelites. Jonah felt his anger was justified because of what they had done to his nation.

APPLICATION

Be careful what you rationalize. Be careful of the behaviors or attitudes that you think are okay. The world today allows just about anything. In some states in the U.S., criminals are arrested and let go with a slap on the wrist, only to reoffend. They rationalize their behaviors because of the lax justice system. “If they don’t care what I do, why should I?”

Rationalization can be very dangerous. We only have one true way of knowing what is right and what is wrong. Do you know what that is? It is God’s Word. I am currently in a country where only a few decades ago, communism reigned. That government justified all its actions on their belief that it was “best” for the people. Ask those who lived through if they think that was best. Not hardly.

I will trust the Lord to show me how to rationalize the things around me. I will follow His lead. If the Lord says it’s right, it’s right. Jonah could have stopped and just asked the Lord why He decided to forgive the Ninevites. God would have probably gladly told him. Don’t be a Jonah. Don’t rationalize your behaviors. Go to the Lord.

Forgive me, Lord, when I try to justify my attitude or behaviors. If I line up my life with Your Word, I know I will be just fine.

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Advice, Anger, Battles, Bible, Bitterness, Darkness, Faith, God's Will, Judgment, Redemption, Salvation, Scripture

MAD AT GOD

JONAH 4:1

“But it greatly displeased Jonah, and he became angry.”

Have you ever been mad at God? Maybe something didn’t go your way, so you blamed God. Perhaps you got sick and suffered greatly, so you got angry and refused to talk to Him. Maybe you lost a loved one prematurely, so, of course, it’s God’s fault. You are not alone. We’ve all done it at some point, I guess. Even Jonah!

Nineveh repents of their sins, and God spares them. Jonah should have been jumping up and down and claiming a victory for Jehovah. But Jonah didn’t like the Ninevites. He would have been just as happy if they had been wiped off the face of the earth. You know what? I don’t think God was too concerned that He “displeased Jonah.” God was looking at the big picture.

APPLICATION

What application do you see in this passage? One that I see is something a friend of mine used to say. “There is a God and I’m not Him.” I do not know the mind of God. I do not understand why He does the things He does. It is not for me to know. If He wants me to know, He’ll tell me. Until then, I trust His sovereign hand and serve Him.

Another thing I learn is it is okay to get mad at God. God did not strike Jonah dead because of his anger. If He had, Jonah 4:1 would be the end of the book, but it is not. We have ten more verses to see how God handles this anger of Jonah. God knows we are but dust. He understands the limitations of our minds and our mercy. But He will teach Jonah something.

I have to admit that I have been mad a God before. When I went through my chemotherapy in preparation for my second stem cell transplant, I had a few days when I was angry. I didn’t lash out at Him, but I just didn’t talk to Him for a few days. I wanted out of this misery I was in and saw no escape. I knew and believed God could have healed me instantly, if He had wanted to, if that had been His plan. But He chose to leave me in the fire a little longer. I understand now, but back then I didn’t. I learned to talk to Him and just spill my guts. He can handle it. There is nothing you can’t tell Him. Talk to Him today.

I praise You, Father, for not getting angry at my anger towards You. Hold me close and remind me how much You love me.

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Advice, Affection, Bible, Bitterness, Christianity, Family, Forgiveness, Modeling, Repentance, Restoration, Scripture

FAMILY REUNION

OBADIAH 20

“And the exiles of this army of the sons of Israel, who are among the Canaanites as far as Zarephath, and the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad, will possess the cities of the Negev.”

Do you still have family reunions? My family has been having them for a long, long time. Family reunions give you the chance to see cousins and other relatives you haven’t seen in a while. You catch up on the news and see new members of the family. It’s that common DNA that binds you.

Obadiah is saying in verse 20 that the tribes of Israel are going to come back together. There will no longer be two kingdoms (North and South). Their common history binds them together. They would return and become one. After all the years of fighting, a common exile for each would bring them back as one.

APPLICATION

Is there someone in your family to whom you need to restore fellowship? We all have those members of our family who have broken off from the family. How do you do restore that? You have to focus on what you have in common, not the differences. You may have the same parents, or same uncles or aunts. Look at that.

If you are both believers, you have the most important bound – Jesus. He can heal any broken relationship, even the longest held grudges. But you have to let Him. It takes humility and forgiveness. That is something that should flow from Christians.

Family is tough. I believe most, if not all, families are dysfunctional to a point. None of us are perfect. We have all wronged someone from time to time. We need to make that right. Let me encourage you to do that today. Don’t wait. Time is short.

Lord, I am so glad You didn’t hold all my sins against me after letting me into Your family. You forgave me.

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Abuse, Anger, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Courage, Disciplemaking, Forgiveness, God's Will, Modeling, Scripture

RETRIBUTION

OBADIAH 18

“‘Then the house of Jacob will be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame; but the house of Esau will be like stubble. And they will set them on fire and consume them, so that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,’ for the LORD has spoken.”

When you’ve been wronged, it is only natural to want to get “payback.” Our flesh demands it. We can’t wait to see those who have hurt us hurt themselves. I didn’t say that was right, only that our flesh leans that way. God calls us to a higher standard, a different response.

Esau has finally and completely been dealt with by God. He has made Jacob “a fire” and Joseph “a flame.” They will be rekindled, and life will emerge from death. Esau, on the other hand, will have “no survivor.” And those final words of today’s verse, “for the LORD has spoken,” says it all. Finality! Completion.

APPLICATION

Wait on the Lord and see the splendor of His handiwork. Vengeance is mine says the Lord. But it’s so hard to wait when you are the one suffering. I understand that. As I have mentioned many times in this blog, I worked for over 30 years in the child welfare field. I read stories of child abuse that angered me. I wanted those people punished for what they had done to an innocent child.

I quickly learned that I could not shoulder that burden. I was in no position to punish them. But I could extend the hand of Jesus to them. That was hard at first. I remember telling my staff that and encouraging them to do the same. It was amazing how much better the children responded to us when they saw us loving their parents.

I don’t which side of the fence you are on today – Jacob or Esau. It really doesn’t matter. Both sides need Jesus. Have you surrendered your heart and life to Him? Do that today. Lay down all your intentions on getting even. It’s not worth it and doesn’t satisfy. Only Jesus does.

I love You, Lord, and I lift You up. I praise You for all You have done and continue to do in my life.

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Affection, Apologies, Betrayal, Bible, Bitterness, Confrontation, Deceit, Enemies, Family, Forgiveness, God's Will, Love, Modeling, Relationships

HOW DARE YOU

OBADIAH 11

“‘On the day that you stood aloof, on the day that strangers carried off his wealth, and foreigners entered his gate and cast lots for Jerusalem—You too were as one of them.’”

I recently heard about the arrest and prosecution of a church secretary who had embezzled hundreds of thousands of dollars over a two decade period. She had literally stolen from her church family. Someone they thought could be trusted was lured to the other side and was enticed to sin against her church family and God.

Edom had done the same, but even worse. Instead of coming to the defense of their family (Jacob), they actually took part in the ransacking of that nation. They turned their backs on family for the lure of riches. Now God was judging them for this. How dare they do this!

APPLICATION

We must stay connected with family, whether that be our earthly, biological families or our spiritual family. Family is important. Those bonds are special. There’s a Greek word that is used only once in Romans 12:10. It’s translated as “be devoted” but it is really an adjective. It comes from two Greek words for love – philos and storges. It is a brotherly love to family.

Philos is the brotherly love word. Philadelphia gets its name from the same root word. Storges is the word for family. Are you practicing this family love today? Is there a rift in your family bonds? We both know the cause of that – sin. It may be on your part or someone else’s. Either way, it is a sin which needs to be dealt with.

May I encourage you today to rectify any issues in your families – earthly or spiritual? Time is short, beloved. We need to treat each day as if it is our last. Don’t waste time on petty arguments and dissensions. Lay them all at His feet today.

You are the Master Peace Maker. Use Your Holy Spirit to repair any relationships in my life today.

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Advice, Bible, Bitterness, Choices, Cleansing, Commands, Double-minded, Encouragement, Following, Justice, Scripture

WORMWOOD

AMOS 5:7

For those who turn justice into wormwood, and throw righteousness to the earth.”

I have read about wormwood in the Bible for years but never really took the time to see what that means. I just figured anything called wormwood had to be bad. It is. Wormwood is a bitter herb that was used to get rid of intestinal worms. Now, that’s just plain gross.

Amos uses the imagery of wormwood (which any Israelite would have known) in this verse today. Amos says they have turned justice, which is a good thing, into wormwood, which is bitter and nasty. Israel had become accustomed to doing as they pleased, regardless of what the Lord had told them.

APPLICATION

We do the same thing. We can take something good and make it bad. Things that help us end up hurting us. Can you think of a few things like that? How about the internet? It has the potential to aid us in so many ways. But man has turned it into something evil through the prevalence of pornography. It has become wormwood in so many ways.

How about food? We Christians are such hypocrites about this. We overindulge and become obese and unhealthy. I am speaking from personal experience. I love to eat, but sometimes I eat just to eat, not for nourishment. Food can become wormwood if not eaten in moderation.

Wormwood is a nasty tasting herb that many of us eat all the time. Our attitudes are bitter. Our relationships become bitter. Even our spiritual life is bitter. And we accept that. May I encourage you today to examine your own life and see if you have any wormwood in it. If you do, get rid of it. Seek justice and righteousness. That’s where you will find the Lord.

Forgive my bitter attitude, Father. I want to always choose Your justice and Your righteousness.

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