Gracekillers: Bitterness

Bitterness 

Daily Reading: (Hebrews 12:15):

“See to it that no one falls short of the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.”

How do we make sure that no bitter root grows up in us? Because what this verse is telling us is that a bitter root will cause trouble not just for the individual that it grows from, it will also negatively impact many.

The answer to this question and also how do we “see to it that o one falls short of the grace of God”, is in the text. We just have to break it down and I am excited to do that with you today.

“See to it” in the Greek means to look upon or be aware “that no one falls short of the grace of God”. This is a message for church leaders that those who are saved might continue and not fail to receive the Gospel of Jesus Christ. What makes bitter roots grow from a person’s life is trying to live under the Law. We will see this as we progress in the text. In fact, someone who tries to live under the Law will cause trouble and defile many by trying to get others to do the same. The word defile is a word picture (miainō): to stain. It is like taking a single drop of ink and letting it go into a bucket of water. You cannot mix grace with the law.

This is why Paul wrote to the Galatians: “You who are trying to be justified by the law have been alienated from Christ; you have fallen away from grace” (Galatians 5:4).

So how do we make sure individuals don’t fall short of the grace of God?  Another way to say it is, “how do you spot a counterfeit?”  You know what experts in currency do so they can detect a counterfeit bill,they study the original. They know the original so well, that they can easily spot when something is not supposed to be there.

One year I was gardening and I had planted a lot of new perennial flowers.  The next year when the perennials started to return, I didn’t know what the original was supposed to look like. So, I faithfully was watering one plant that was actually a giant weed. Thanks to a gardening friend, I was told I was cultivating a weed. Long before someone becomes bitter, that person fell short of the grace of God. That is why the example of a root and growing up is such a marvelous illustration for us. If you don’t receive the grace God gives through Jesus Christ, then the seed is set for the root of bitterness to grow. 

How do people fall short from the grace of God?  

When you fall from grace, Christ becomes of no effect.

“Make every effort to live in peace with everyone and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord” (Hebrews 12:14). This is not a threat but describing a fact. And when the New Testament writers exhort us to “be holy,” they are calling us to live out our true Christ-borne identity. When Jesus said, “Be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matthew 5:48), the word for “perfect” means complete or full grown. He was calling us to the life that is His.” But there is more in the progression of the text that will take us to an Old Testament figure in the Bible.

See that no one is sexually immoral, or is godless like Esau, who for a single meal sold his inheritance rights as the oldest son” (Hebrews 12:16).

We have a contrast of what receiving grace produces versus what it looks like for a person who lives apart from grace.

  • The person develops a deep-rooted issue with bitterness
  • The person is challenged in the area of sexual immorality, e.g. lust, porn addictions, affairs.
  • Their speech is profane.

Whereas the grace of God produces:

  • Peace with all men
  • Holiness which is wholeness, health in soul, body, mind.

How do you know you have fallen short of grace?

You are law-conscious meaning performance-conscious. The story of the prodigal son teaches us that as soon as we turn back to grace (Luke 15:24), we become “a full-grown son with privileges,” able to access the abundant life that God has prepared for us.

Whenever life’s demands flood your mind, see Jesus’ supply of grace upon grace instead. Receive all that you need from Him.

Destructive Speech

Destructive Speech 

Daily Reading: (Luke 4:22, Ephesians 4:29):

“All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked” (Luke 4:22).

“Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”

The word unwholesome in Ephesians 4:29 actually means rotten, putrid, worthless. Maybe you have heard the expression, that is “rotten of you to say”. Before we speak, we should think about what the purpose is behind what I am about to say. Does it add value? Does it benefit those who listen?

Now let’s look at what was said about Jesus and the words He spoke:

“All spoke well of Him and were amazed at the gracious words that came from His lips. “Isn’t this Joseph’s son?” they asked” (Luke 4:22).

Jesus is our example in how we are to build others up according to their needs. You might playback some of Jesus’ words in the New Testament to the Pharisees and think His words didn’t seem to build them up?

Consider the following:

“You brood of vipers, how can you who are evil say anything good? For the mouth speaks what the heart is full of” (Matthew 12:34).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You shut the kingdom of heaven in men’s faces. You yourselves do not enter, nor will you let those enter who are trying to” (Matthew 23:13).

“Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You travel over land and sea to win a single convert, and when he becomes one, you make him twice as much a son of hell as you are” (Matthew 23:14-15).

Woe to you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For you are like whitewashed tombs, which outwardly appear beautiful, but within are full of dead people’s bones and all uncleanness” (Matthew 23:27).

Jesus said all of that because He is gracious and recognized their need too. He was full of grace and truth and the lives the Pharisees are living are heading them straight toward the path of hell. Their need was salvation, and for them to recognize their own righteousness wasn’t good enough. Love guided Jesus’ actions. Jesus spoke firmly against the deception of Satan out of a desire for people to know truth and find life in Him.

Jesus’ Sermon on the Mount gave us this classic statement: “For I tell you that unless your righteousness surpasses that of the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, you will certainly not enter the Kingdom of Heaven” (Matthew 5:20).

What always came from Jesus was grace. The definition of grace is that which is for our benefit, favor, gift, it is what strengthens us in faith. It is the exact opposite of putrid, rotten, unwholesome, worthless talk.

What might surprise you is what the people did who had marveled at what Jesus said, how His words are full of grace. “All the people in the synagogue were furious when they heard this. They got up, drove him out of the town, and took him to the brow of the hill on which the town was built, in order to throw him off the cliff. But He walked right through the crowd and went on His way” (Luke 4:28-30).

I want you to know that Jesus gave His life for us. “No one takes it from me, but I lay it down of my own accord. I have authority to lay it down and authority to take it up again. This command I received from my Father” (John 10:18). The people wanted to kill Jesus and He walked right through the crowd. This is miraculous, one of the miracles of Jesus that no one ever mentions or thinks about. It wasn’t time for Jesus to lay down His life, and so “He walked right through the crowd.”

You know what is really interesting to me is what happened to Jesus before He was in His hometown and the people were amazed at the gracious words, Jesus was first tempted in the wilderness by Satan. What did Jesus do in the Wilderness? He did not merely think about Scripture. He spoke it out loud. He said it is written and quoted Scripture.

In our lives, when we have temptations that come upon us, temptations to be afraid, to worry, to doubt, simply speak out God’s word. By doing so you are receiving His gift of grace, and power to overcome those temptations.

Do you know the words you say can alter the outcome of your situations and in fact, set the direction of your life?

The Bible tells us how the words we speak can open the door to good or evil in our lives. Our words can be grace killers in themselves or usher in our ability to edify others and receive life ourselves. Look at what Proverbs 18:21 says: “Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruit.” As a believer, every word you utter has tremendous power. With your tongue, you can choose to build (edify) or destroy dreams, heal or break the spirit, bring delight or despair, bless or curse.

We see this principle in action in so many instances in the Bible.

Before they received their miracle child, God changed the names of a childless couple, Abram and Sarai, to Abraham (meaning “father of many nations”) and Sarah (meaning “princess”) just before He told Abraham that from them would come a multitude of nations (Genesis 17:5, 16–17). Abraham and Sarah’s new God-given names caused them to speak faith of what God would do in their lives before He did it. This newfound faith was authored by God in their name change so they might receive God’s promise by faith. It took faith, to introduce yourself as the father of many at age 100 before you have any children.

Somewhere along the way of doing this, Sarah experienced a renewal of youth, her barren womb was resurrected with divine life and conceived the miracle child God had promised them. Our words spoken in line with God’s promises have the power to change our circumstances (Proverbs 18:21, Mark 11:23).

Thief of Unbelief

Thief of Unbelief 

Daily Reading: (Mark 9:23-25):

“‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!”When Jesus saw that a crowd was running to the scene, He rebuked the impure spirit. “You deaf and mute spirit,” He said, “I command you, come out of him and never enter him again.”

“If you can”. Those are three deadly words that are robbers of grace.

In the middle of their drama, they were amazed to find the grace of God with them and they ran to receive Him joyfully. There is a word for all of us who will go through some extremely difficult, dramatic times in our lives. The grace you need to overcome whatever it is that you face is found in Christ Jesus who is with you now, receive Him joyfully (Mark 9:15).

“So they brought him. When the spirit saw Jesus, it immediately threw the boy into a convulsion. He fell to the ground and rolled around, foaming at the mouth” (Mark 9:20). You would think that when the boy was brought to Jesus, he would have instantly been better and the symptoms would have stopped. But the same thing that had been happening to the boy continued. Jesus’ nine disciples couldn’t do anything for the boy and here at this moment in the presence of Jesus it appears the boy is not doing any better.

“Jesus asked the boy’s father, “How long has he been like this?” “From childhood,” he answered. “It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him” (Mark 9:21-22).

The father thinks back to how long his son has suffered. The past has made the man believe that his future will be no different. As believers, we can look at our past, and have our past tell us something different, that in Christ, everything has changed (2 Corinthians 5:17)!

God’s grace and His favor is upon your life, believe and receive the grace that you need to overcome whatever it is that you face.

Verse 22b “But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.”

Now Jesus has an issue with three words that are robbing this man from receiving the compassionate grace of God.

In the Gospels, Jesus consistently affirms those who express faith and rebukes those who express doubt and unbelief. The leper He healed is a great example. This man said to Jesus, “If you will, you can make me clean” (Mark 1:40). This is a declaration of faith, and it moved Jesus to a compassionate response of healing.

But the father of this afflicted boy said to Jesus, “If you can do anything, have compassion on us and help us”. “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” The statement for your life in Christ that will lift you up in your darkest days and give you the greatest hope in your most trying times, is when we properly understand this verse in the Greek. “Can you believe that all things are possible to Him [Jesus] who is always believing?” It’s not about how well or how much you can believe, but who you will believe. Jesus is the only one whose faith is always constant and never wavers. His faith never fails! And if you can believe that all things are possible for Jesus who never doubts, never wavers, then you are on your way to your miracle!

When there’s a problem, a strategy of the devil is to get your attention onto fixing the thing that’s not broken. If Christ lives in you, then there’s nothing wrong with your faith. But you still might have a problem with unbelief. God’s will is to heal, but unbelief will limit the power of God in your life.

Don’t worry about your faith, you already have enough to move your mountain, apply the hammer of God’s word to your unbelief and be ready to receive your miracle.