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Tag Archives: Overcoming bitterness

When Worry Interferes with Worship

As someone who rarely worries, 2022 was a year filled with distractions. While most transfers take a few months, mine lingered on for nearly seven months, filling my life with disappointment and rejection. All of this uncertainly challenged me emotionally and spiritually. When my prayers for clarity continued to go unanswered, a spirit of worry interfered with my ability to worship the Lord. One of the byproducts of this disconnect with God was the root of bitterness, Hebrews 12:15.

As you have therefore received Christ, [even] Jesus the Lord, [so] walk (regulate your lives and conduct yourselves) in union with and conformity to Him. Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving. See to it that no one carries you off as spoil or makes you yourselves captive by his so-called philosophy and intellectualism and vain deceit (idle fancies and plain nonsense), following human tradition (men’s ideas of the material rather than the spiritual world), just crude notions following the rudimentary and elemental teachings of the universe and disregarding [the teachings of] Christ (the Messiah), Colossians 2:6-8.

The apostle Paul addresses worry in his letter to the Church at Colosse. One of the best ways to avoid bitterness is by developing strong spiritual root systems. Like the tree in Psalm 1:3, receiving daily nourishment from the Word of God is key to deepening your personal relationship with Jesus Christ, Romans 10:9-11. The planting process starts by surrounding yourself with a healthy environment like the good soil described by Jesus in the Parable of the Sower, Matthew 13:23.

Rejoice in the Lord always [delight, gladden yourselves in Him]; again I say, Rejoice! Let all men know and perceive and recognize your unselfishness (your considerateness, your forbearing spirit). The Lord is near [He is [a]coming soon]. Do not fret or have any anxiety about anything, but in every circumstance and in everything, by prayer and petition ([b]definite requests), with thanksgiving, continue to make your wants known to God. And God’s peace [shall be yours, that [c]tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and being content with its earthly lot of whatever sort that is, that peace] which transcends all understanding shall [d]garrison and mount guard over your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus, Philippians 4:4-7.

If your church has small groups, this is the best time of the year to join one while your desire to make the most of 2023 is still alive and fresh, John 10:10. If you’re still looking for a place to call home, there’s no such thing as a perfect church. However, the people inside this building are the church. Therefore, find someone who you can relate to by praying for an accountability partner. The next time worry interferes with worship, you’ll have someone to help you break these chains to find a heartbeat for worship.

by Jay Mankus

The Secret to Satisfaction

The Rolling Stones first sang about the inability to find satisfaction in their 1965 hit (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction. When one’s expectations, needs, or wishes go unfulfilled, an uneasy feeling begins to consume souls. As individuals begin to compare their lives with successful people, focuses shift from what you have to what you don’t. Thus, the invisible and unseen blessings that could lead to satisfaction are often ignored, resulting in a troubled heart.

I was made very happy in the Lord that now you have revived your interest in my welfare after so long a time; you were indeed thinking of me, but you had no opportunity to show it. 11 Not that I am implying that I was in any personal want, for I have learned how to be content (satisfied to the point where I am not disturbed or disquieted) in whatever state I am, Philippians 4:10-11.

Near the end of his life, the apostle Paul finds himself in chains, behind bars for a crime that he didn’t commit. Instead of allowing bitterness to overwhelm his heart, writing a letter to the Church at Philippi appears to have brought a sense peace to Paul, Philippians 4:7. The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to encourage these first century saints to focus on the positive aspects in life, Philippians 4:8. In the passages that follow, Paul reveals the secret to finding satisfaction.

I know how to be abased and live humbly in straitened circumstances, and I know also how to enjoy plenty and live in abundance. I have learned in any and all circumstances the secret of facing every situation, whether well-fed or going hungry, having a sufficiency and enough to spare or going without and being in want. 13 I have strength for all things in Christ Who empowers me [I am ready for anything and equal to anything through Him Who infuses inner strength into me; I am self-sufficient in Christ’s sufficiency], Philippians 4:12-13.

This secret includes 3 key principles. The first is remembering God’s purpose for your life, Jeremiah 29:11. The second piece of advice is relying on God’s Spirit within you to make a change for the better, Philippians 4:13. Finally, if you want to find satisfaction, redeem God’s promises for your future, Philippians 1:9-10. Whatever formula that may be out there, nothing is guaranteed in this life. Thus, until you begin to put Jesus’ words into action, Matthew 7:24, satisfaction is just another word.

by Jay Mankus

A Soldiers Rage

A well known pastor recently had an extended layover at an airport. This extra time opened the door for an intriguing conversation with a stranger. As these two men talked, a soldier in his late twenties asked, “so what do you do?” This opportunity brought God into their discussion. Moments later there was a period of silence. Eager to dive deeper, the pastor asks this soldier, ” so what’s your story? Since our flight has been delayed, we’ve got plenty of time now.” After a slight hesitation, this marksman began to bear his soul.

Know this, my beloved brothers: let every person be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger; for the anger of man does not produce the righteousness of God, James 1:19-20.

While this pastor had heard several sob stories over the course of his ministry, this one went straight to the top. At age 3, his father committed suicide. Six years later, he witnessed a sexual assault and a murder. Before this suspect was arrested, he was threatened to be killed if he told anyone. If this wasn’t enough, one of his sons who was babysat while he was serving in the Middle East was sexually assaulted. All of these bitterness turned into rage, prompting this soldier to become a killing machine, a gifted machine gunner. At this point, tears welled up in both men’s eyes as a soldier’s rage was revealed.

Refrain from anger, and forsake wrath! Fret not yourself; it tends only to evil, Psalm 37:8.

This story reminds me of my friend Harry from Ohio. However, by the time I met Harry, he was already filled with bitterness. The best way to describe Harry was that he cursed like a sailor in every sentence, lived with his girlfriend and spent each day rebelling from God. Yet, during a trip to Cedar Point in Ohio, my best friend Eddy and I stood in shock as Harry bumped into his former youth pastor. Scratching our heads, we never knew, thought or could imagine that Harry had a spiritual past. This divine encounter turned Harry’s life around. Although the transformation moved slowly, this soldier’s rage was replaced by the grace of God.

by Jay Mankus

A Source of Hope or Poisoned by a Toxic Environment?

The other night I was able to interact with a couple of co-workers that I hadn’t seen for a while. Instead of giving a token “how are you doing” in passing without really listening, I caught these two individuals at a vulnerable moment. Each were coping with issues beyond their control. Thus, I was given the opportunity to be a source of hope or add negative fuel to these fires?

Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing, 1 Thessalonians 5:11.

According to the White House Office of Consumer Affairs, dissatisfied customers typically tell 9 to 15 other people about their experience with some telling 20 or more. This frustration also applies to toxic environments as bitter hearts search for someone to vent their displeasure with. When two co-workers focus solely on the negative aspects of their job, even the optimistic can become poisoned by a toxic work environment.

But exhort one another every day, as long as it is called “today,” that none of you may be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin, Hebrews 3:13.

The author of Hebrews addresses this issue in the passage above. This first century convert to Christianity understood the nature of sin. Temptation lurks daily like the illustration in 2 Timothy 4:3-4 with ears itching to participate in gossip and slander. This behavior results in hardened hearts, deceived by sin. Yet, freewill provides you with a choice to make each day. You can be a source of hope or fall prey to a toxic environment. Choose wisely.

by Jay Mankus

Taken Away

In the 1972 Men’s Basketball Olympic Gold Medal Game, the buzzer sounded twice at the end of the game with the United States leading 50-49.  However, the officials stopped the game a final time, putting 3 second back on the clock.  On the third attempt, the U.S.S.R. caught a long inbound pass and scored a two point basket as time expired.  Despite an appeal to the Olympic Committee, the final score was upheld giving the gold medal to the Soviet’s squad.  Today, the silver medals of this team remain in a Swiss bank vault, unclaimed as their gold medal was taken away.

For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it, Matthew 16:25.

You don’t have to be an athlete to have something taken away.  A car accident may leave an individual paralyzed.  Some sort of rare illness can steal the health of a young and formerly energetic soul.  Meanwhile, careers, jobs and relationships may end prematurely, without your consent or failed attempts to save them.  Whenever you endure heartbreak, these moments in time may take years to overcome.  Somethings in life just aren’t fair and what’s worse God tends to be receive the blame for most of life’s troubles.

Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst,” John 6:35.

As God closes the door abruptly on one aspect in your life, faith is what gets individuals through periods of darkness.  Although the day light may not come soon enough, an invisible source will stand by your side.  Promising the Holy Spirit, Jesus foresaw a time when things would be taken away on this earth.  Subsequently, when this day arrives, its essential to turn your attention toward the bread of life.  Don’t let what has been taken away from you develop into a life filled with bitterness and regret.  Rather, press on through days of darkness to find meaning and purpose in Christ.

by Jay Mankus

 

 

 

Rich in Love

The LORD is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and rich in love. – Psalm 145:8

Blessed, fortunate and wealthy are terms associated with being rich.  For some this status is achieved by the luck of the draw, born into it.  Others acquire possessions through years of discipline, hard work and perseverance.  Meanwhile, a few receive this by surprise, like a will as illustrated by Jason, the main character in the Ultimate Gift.

If I give all I possess to the poor and give over my body to hardship that I may boast, but do not have love, I gain nothing. – 1 Corinthians 13:3

However, one aspect of wealth that is often overlooked is becoming rich in love.  Unfortunately, several obstacles stand in the way: bitterness, impatience and unforgiveness to name a few.  These spiritual barriers prevent souls from passing on the love of Jesus.  Thus, poverty is not only a financial state, it’s also a condition of a wounded heart, a casualty of a fallen world.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. – 1 Corinthians 13:6

The presence of love can be a difference maker.  If genuine, love can transform the angry, pissed off and unlovable.   Perhaps this explains the words of the apostle Paul known as the love chapter is regularly quoted in weddings.  Attributed as one of three theological virtues, love is conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, available to anyone who calls on the name of the Lord.  May the words of today’s blog inspire you to become rich in love.

by Jay Mankus

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