Christianity 201

May 24, 2019

Urgently Wanting Something May Be a Sign of Bitterness

We’ve previously run some devotional articles by Jay Mankus who writes at Express Yourself 4 Him, and for today’s selection, I wrestled with three equally interesting pieces. The one below I read three times and each time through I was impressed by how the Biblical text weaved in and out of the application, and how the paragraph that one might expect to come first came at the end.

But more than the writing, I wondered if there were times in my life when I was like the character in the Biblical narrative. As always, click the title below to read this at source. There’s also a bonus article and each one is accompanied by a Christian music video at his site.

Provoked by Bitterness and Bound by Sin

If you blessed to be around a newborn baby or infant eager to start crawling, you will witness periodical tantrums. Some will signal moms that it’s time to breast feed or change a dirty diaper. Prior to being able to speak, crying, fussing and screaming are signs of displeasure and unhappiness. When you examine these fits of rage from a biblical perspective, knee jerk reactions from any human being are often provoked by bitterness.

18 Now when Simon saw that the Spirit was given through the laying on of the apostles’ hands, he offered them money, 19 saying, “Give me this authority and power too, so that anyone on whom I lay my hands may receive the Holy Spirit,” Acts 8:18-19.

There is where parenting will influence and shape the character of a child. If parents allow children to get everything they want as soon as he or she cries, the more spoiled this individual will become over time. This display of bitterness is a sign that the human flesh, known as the sinful nature is alive and well. Anyone not trained or taught to resist this urge, will be provoked by bitterness and bound to sin.

20 But Peter said to him, “May your money be destroyed along with you, because you thought you could buy the [free] gift of God with money! 21 You have no part or share in this matter, because your heart (motive, purpose) is not right before God. 22 So repent of this wickedness of yours, and pray to the Lord that, if possible, this thought of your heart may be forgiven you. 23 For I see that you are provoked by bitterness and bound by sin,” Acts 8:20-23.

During a trip to Samaria, Luke records an interesting conversation between Peter and a magician called Simon. Based upon the passage above, Simon appears to have been spoiled in his younger years, normally getting whatever he wants. Subsequently, Simon offers Peter a bribe, attempting to receive the Holy Spirit through a cash exchange. However, this isn’t how God works. When motives are impure, prayer is necessary to get yourself right before God. Yet, unless you deal with bitterness and sin in a biblical manner, healing won’t occur. Fasting, prayer and seeking godly counsel are steps on the road to recovery. The best therapy to overcome the root of bitterness is meditating on the Word of God. Exercising spiritual disciplines will release you from the bondage of sin.

Here’s a bonus article by the same author:

The Synagogue of the Freedmen

A synagogue is the building or location where a Jewish assembly meets for religious worship and instruction. In biblical times, small towns and villages with less than ten men met out in the open, often along the banks of a river or sea. One of these places of worship was known as the Synagogue of the Freedmen. These individuals were of collection of freed Jewish slaves from Alexandria, Asia, Cilicia and Cyrene. Past experiences as slaves created an instant bond for these men.

However, some men from what was called the Synagogue of the Freedmen (freed Jewish slaves), both Cyrenians and Alexandrians, and some from Cilicia and [the province of] Asia, rose up and questioned and argued with Stephen, Acts 6:9.

Based upon the passage above, the members of this synagogue felt threatened by Jesus. Perhaps this community of believers was afraid of change, especially to Jewish traditions that they embraced. Thus, their reaction to Jesus being the long awaited Messiah was similar to the chief priest and Pharisees who crucified Jesus. Subsequently, the Synagogue of the Freedmen began a smear campaign against Stephen. This newly appointed apostle was bombarded by a character assassination provoked and incited by the people.

51 “You stiff-necked and stubborn people, uncircumcised in heart and ears, you are always actively resisting the Holy Spirit. You are doing just as your fathers did. 52 Which one of the prophets did your fathers not persecute? They killed those who proclaimed beforehand the coming of the Righteous One, whose betrayers and murderers you have now become; 53 you who received the law as ordained and delivered to you by angels, and yet you did not obey it!” – Acts 7:51-53

Stephen was put on trial, forced to give an account of the false accusations made against him. It’s unclear whether or not the Synagogue of the Freedmen were pawns urged by religious leaders or willing participants. Regardless of the motives, Stephen blames this behavior on resisting the Holy Spirit. Any type of change is difficult. However, when you make a decision to dedicate your life to Jesus, this means living by a new set of standards, the Bible. Stephen was stoned to death and other Christians were persecuted. As modern souls wrestle to make spiritual decisions today, the fear of change remains. For anyone still on the fence, may your hearts and minds embrace the Holy Spirit.

May 27, 2014

Where We’d Be Without Christ

Yielding To God BlogToday’s reading is from the blog Yielding to God, written by Reuel Dawal in The Philippines.  This is actually the second post on Psalm 14, if you want to read part one first, click here. To read part two (below) at source, click the title below. If you’re on Facebook, use the drop-down menu labeled “Christian Quotes” for some excellent graphics. You can also follow Reuel on Twitter by clicking here.

What We are Without Christ…

Psalm 14:2-3 “The Lord has looked down from heaven upon the sons of men to see if there is any who understand, who seek after God. They have all turned aside, together they have become corrupt; there is no one who does good, not even one.”

David continues to describe the depravity of mankind before God. Thankfully, he is not applying his description to all men. For in verses 4 and 5, he speaks of God’s people and the righteous generation. So what David talks about are those who do not belong to God’s righteous people (those who are chosen by Him). Nevertheless, to the Christian, this description of David is what we were before coming to Christ. David could also point to himself as one of these people were it not for the mercy of God upon him. For we were also not a people once, until the Lord granted us His grace. Just as Peter exhorted, “But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for God’s own possession, so that you may proclaim the excellencies of Him who has called you out of darkness into His marvelous light; for you once were not a people, but now you are the people of God; you had not received mercy, but now you have received mercy” (emphasis added, 1 Peter 2:9-10). This description of David is what we are without Christ.

  • No Understanding

When a person is not in Christ, he lacks understanding. He cannot see the truth; he cannot comprehend the reality of God. As 1 Corinthians 2:14 says, “[A] natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” The wicked men, David says, cannot understand God and His word. Likewise, David could not as well unless God discloses Himself to him. We also were not able to understand God until Christ manifested Himself to us. For by Christ alone can we truly see God and come to Him (cf. Heb. 1:2-3).

  • No Taste for Heaven

When a person is not saved, he does not seek God. When I was still an unbeliever, I do not care about God at all. I may know the name ‘God,’ and that He exists, but the desire for Him is not in my heart. That is what we are without Christ. For only by Christ can one have a new heart and mind. Unless God Himself quickens a person, he cannot come to God.

  • A Rebel in the Universe

When a person is not saved, he is a rebel against God. Although God’s word is presented to Him, he resists and despises God (cf. Rom. 1:18-21). Without God’s regenerating power upon us, we won’t seek after Him. Rather, we will still continue going on our own way, seeking our own lusts, and getting farther from Him.

  • Spiritually Dead

When a person is not saved, he is spiritually dead. When I was still an unbeliever, all my human works are nothing before God (cf. Isa. 64:6). My [humanly good] works are but full of pride and wrong motives. All our works are works of unrighteousness before God’s perfect righteousness. Only by Christ can one gain favor in the sight of God. Only in Christ can our works be counted as righteous before God.

For Reflection

  1. Have you ever thought, “What would I be without God’s grace,” “What would I be without Christ?”
  2. If what is written above is what we are without Christ, how should it move us to humility and worship before Him? How should it make us filled with great joy for such a great salvation we have in Christ? How should it stir up our desire to know Him and serve Him more?