|Listen to the Bible|
Thoughts and Commentary on Today's Reading
Ephesians 6 is a powerful chapter on Spiritual Warfare. We need the armor of Yahweh - daily! Never can we safely be without it! For today, I'd like to focus on the Helmet of Salvation and the Breastplate of Righteousness. The Helmet and Breastplate are worn when we guard our thoughts and emotions, by God's Grace.
But sometimes, we let Yahweh's protection slip, not even recognizing that we are under attack. One of the most deadly attacks against the mind and heart of the Christian is the attack of bitterness. Bitterness is a personal poison that corrodes our walk with Yah and weakens our spiritual influence. Yet, the the embittered person is the least likely to recognize he/she has fallen under bitterness.
So, today, I'd like to address how we can wear the Helmet of Salvation and the Breastplate of Righteousness - applying these part of God's Armor specifically against bitterness...
There are actually seven keys, given in Messiah's Commands, for conquering bitterness. Obedience (grace-empowered) is wearing the Helmet (guarding our thinking against bitterness) and the Breastplate (guarding our hearts - emotions against bitterness), in practical terms.
Hebrews 12:14-15 "Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see Yahweh: Looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled."
In Ephesians 4, which we read just a couple of days back, we read a very misunderstood (poorly translated) passage on anger (which is related to bitterness). It seemed to give Christians license to be angry - in fact, by the way this verse is translated, it appears that getting angry at someone isn't sinful.
Ephesians 4:26-31 - “Be ye angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath: Neither give place to the devil… Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers. And grieve not the Holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the Day of Redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice.”
But Ephesians 4 isn't countenancing rage. Actually, it is better translated (from the Greek) as it appears below:
Ephesians 4:26 - New Living Translation (NLT)
And “don’t sin by letting anger control you.”
As I mentioned before, Yahshua gave us seven keys to conquering bitterness, which are contained in seven of His Commands. Exercising these keys (by His Grace) is wearing the Helmet and Breastplate effectively against becoming bitter.
So what are the seven keys to conquering bitterness? Today, I will only address the first key. Tomorrow, I will continue to discuss these keys. In other words, today is the first in a small chain of studies on overcoming bitterness. At first when I share them with you, they may seem strange and unrelated, but bear with me as I will explain how living by these Commands of Messiah is effective against the soul-poison of bitterness:
Key #1: Increase your faith
The Command of Christ regarding increasing faith is found in Matthew 19:26. If we have faith, nothing will be impossible for us to do (Matthew 17:20). Faith comes by hearing the Word of Yah (Romans 10:17). We have access by faith into the power of God’s Grace (Romans 5:1-2) When we allow ourselves to become bitter, we are resisting the grace of Yah. Faith in God’s Word is the victory that motives us to humble ourselves, forgive our offenders and receive more of Yahweh’s Grace (James 4:6).
2 Corinthians 5:7 "For we walk by faith, not by sight."
Faith begins with the awareness that Yahweh is in charge of every detail in our lives. Therefore, He is able to work out benefits, even for the “bad” things that happen to us.
Romans 8:28 "And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose."
When something that looks bad happens to us, we must not give in to our natural tendency to get angry or bitter, but rather ask ourselves, “What blessing does God want to give me by allowing this to happen?”
When you belong to Yahweh, suffering is to be expected. We first partake of Yahshua’s Sufferings before we may have the joy of full fellowship with Him or partake in His glory.
Suffering isn’t an unusual experience, in the life of a Christian. The Bible tells us that all who live godly will suffer (2 Timothy 3:12). The Scriptures also assure us that “all things work together for good” in the lives of those who love God (Romans 8:28). This means that God allows suffering into our lives only when it is for a good purpose.
• Suffering perfects our characters—1 Peter 5:10
• Suffering delivers us from materialism, causing us to focus our attention on that which has eternal value—Philippians 3:8
• Suffering in the flesh destroys our attraction for sin. Thus, suffering is the pain which comes in order for true healing to take place—1 Peter 4:1
Suffering is the method God uses to “choose” us as His own, as the Bible states in the following verses:
•“...Many be called, but few chosen,” (Matthew 20:16).
•“Behold, I have refined thee, but not with silver; I have chosen thee in the furnace of affliction,” (Isaiah 48:10).
• “If we suffer, we shall also reign with Him…” (2 Timothy 2:12).
Bitterness is related to a failure to suffer with grace. If we fail Yahweh’s tests of suffering and do not respond to them in a submitted and godly manner, we will become embittered by these experiences rather than tasting triumph.
When fiery trials come our way, like Job of old, we have an opportunity to pass through the experience of suffering in a way that pleases and glorifies God. This is what it means to suffer with grace.
However if, instead of looking with humble submission to God, we focus our attention on the human instrument who “caused” our suffering, we will become angry and embittered towards the “offender.” When we permit the “gall” of bitterness to develop, our soul becomes poisoned (Acts 8:23). Thus, we miss out on the “good” that our Heavenly Father was attempting to accomplish through the trial.
If bitterness is allowed to persist, it is a spiritual cancer that ultimately erodes our relationship with Yahweh.
• 1 John 4:20-21 “If a man say, I love Yahweh, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love Yahweh whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from Him, That he who loveth Yahweh love his brother also.”
• Ephesians 4:30-32 “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as Yahweh for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.”
Increasing our faith helps us to pass through times of suffering with Grace. And suffering with Grace rather than becoming embittered involves responding to trials by using the acronym G.R.E.A.T. (many thanks to IBLP for this acronym and the insights):
G = GIVE THANKS
· The Bible tells us plainly that whether we’re in a happy or difficult situation, we are to still thank God for the GOOD He is accomplishing in this trial.
1 Thessalonians 5:18 — “In every thing give thanks for this is the will of God in Christ Yahshua concerning you.”
What are some of the benefits of suffering? There are many benefits which God uses suffering to accomplish in us. In this study, we will specifically identify some of these benefits, as a means of increasing our faith in Yahweh, even when we are in difficulties:
1. Suffering is God’s Way of GETTING OUR ATTENTION—Sometimes we get so caught up in the “cares of this world,” that the Voice of God seems to get drowned out. As it says in Jeremiah 35:14. Yahweh may bring suffering upon us just to get us to look up.
2. Suffering is an assurance that Yahweh loves us and has ADOPTED US AS SONS—Hebrews 12:6-7
3. Suffering is God’s call for PRAYERFUL SELF-EXAMINATION—Sometimes we bring suffering upon ourselves through sinful words or practices. This is why one of our first responses to a trial should be prayerful self–examination. We need to be certain that we have not brought the troubles upon ourselves. God requires that we search out, confess, and forsake every sin - Proverbs 28:13.
4. Suffering is God’s way of CONQUERING OUR PRIDE— The suffering of contention (fighting) reveals pride (Proverbs 13:10). The suffering of destruction is a consequence of pride (Proverbs 16:18).
5. Suffering is a reminder of OUR WEAKNESSES and NEED FOR DEPENDENCE ON GOD—Perhaps we
are suffering under an “infirmity” which we cannot change. Only as we learn how to praise God in our unchangeable “infirmities” are we able to fully experience the power of Christ resting upon us (2 Corinthians 12:7-10).
6. Suffering motivates us to CRY OUT TO GOD— God responds to the cry of His children when they suffer (Psalm 34:17). Suffering motivates us to cry out to God in humble yet heartfelt appeal. We are to cry to Him daily during suffering (Psalm 86:3). We are to cry out with our voice, out of a pure heart (Psalm 3:4 & 66:18).
Psalm 3:4 “I cried unto Yahweh with my voice, and He heard me out of his holy Hill.”
7. Suffering is an opportunity to use SPIRITUAL WARFARE—When we are suffering, we find Spiritual Warfare especially necessary. We may recognize a spiritual attack if our suffering takes the form of confusion, suspicion, ungodly emotions and division. We are told how to suit up for battle in Ephesians 6:11-18.
8. Suffering is God’s method of PURIFYING OUR FAITH—God purifies and strengthens our faith, testing it in the fires of affliction (1 Peter 1:6-7). “Knowing this that the trying of your faith worketh patience,” (James 1:3).
9. Suffering is one way in which God increases our HATRED FOR EVIL—When our suffering is caused by the devastating consequences of sin, we are able to see how sin has robbed us of something God planned for us to enjoy. We also can see how our sins have damaged the lives of those we love. When we can clearly see that we are suffering because of our sinful choices, our hatred of evil increases. As we count the cost of this sin, we truly commit to God and turn away from it permanently (Galatians 6:7-8).
10. Suffering is a reminder to PRAY FOR OUR AUTHORITIES—The Bible tells us to pray for those in authority over us (1 Timothy 2:1-2). When our authorities overstep their bounds and persecute us for righteousness, it is vital that we pray for them. Thus, God will intervene causing the authorities’ hearts to turn
Proverbs 21:1 - The king's heart is in the Hand of Yahweh, as the rivers of water: He turneth it whithersoever He will."
11. Suffering is our signal to RE-EVALUATE OUR PRIORITIES—When we fail to spend proper time with God, in prayer and meditating upon His Word, we become vulnerable to transgression, fear, doubt or despair. Such trials are unnecessary (Psalm 127:2). Sometimes by not placing our time with the Lord as a high priority, we get too busy to worship Him on the Sabbath. This results in us suffering spiritual weakness and a loss of connection with God. But, if we have more projects than we can manage to do in six days, we have assumed more work than God intended (Exodus 20:9).
R = REJOICE
Returning to our G.R.E.A.T. acronym, the "R" stands for Rejoice
· While giving thanks to God at the first onset of a trial is an act of will, true rejoicing is a spiritual response.
· In order to truly rejoice for the good which God is accomplishing in a trial, we must prayerfully identify its benefits. When we can identify the benefits God is bestowing in our suffering, we can really rejoice, rendering heartfelt praise to our Heavenly King.
· One of the biggest blessings hidden within each instance of suffering is God’s work to polish and perfect our characters (Jeremiah 29:11).
· Romans 8:18— “For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us.”
E = Engraft Scripture
· When our Saviour faced trials, like the temptations in the wilderness, He responded by quoting appropriate Scripture.
· Claiming Scripture is a powerful way to build faith, enabling us to continue to suffer with grace, fully submitted to God.
· Romans 10:17— “...Faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God.”
A = Appeal to Yahweh
· When we have accepted the trial, thanked God, rejoiced for the benefits He is accomplishing through it, and have claimed Scripture to empower our godly response; we are ready to appeal to God, with a right attitude.
· It is perfectly appropriate to cry out to God to remove a trial. But, we should ask Him to remove it WHEN He has finished accomplishing the good He intended.
· Psalm 107:13— “Then they cried unto Yahweh in their trouble, and He saved them out of their distresses.”
T = Triumph in Bringing Glory to Yahweh in the Suffering - Rather than Becoming Bitter
· God wants us to respond to trials in a way that even benefits the lives of those who have oppressed us. This response is opposite to our natural hearts.
· Matthew 5:44 “Love your enemies (with our heart and spirit), bless them that curse you (with our mouth) , do good to them that hate you (with our actions), and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you.”
· Not only does it glorify God when we are kind and loving toward our “offenders,” but also God has promised to give a special reward to those who return good for evil.
· 1 Peter 3:8-9 “Finally… be courteous: Not rendering evil for evil, or railing for railing: but contrariwise blessing; knowing that ye are thereunto called, that ye should inherit a blessing.”
And all of that has been expounding upon only the first key to preventing (or healing from) bitterness, which is "increase your faith". How life-changing will it be to put just this first key into practice in our lives? And that's not all - there's more... Tomorrow, we will continue our prayerful look into the powerful keys to overcoming bitterness... Let's knock it out and prayerfully remove every root!
In so doing, we'll be discovering the practical application of Yahweh's mighty Armor, found in Ephesians 6. It isn't about decoration! Wearing the Armor is about victorious, Christian living!
As we are nearing the end of 2017, several of you have been asking what I plan to share on the blog for 2018. Thanks for your interest and for your heartfelt desire to continue the momentum in Yahweh's Word! I share this interest. As a result, next year I will be doing two things on this blog, as follows:
1) Each day I plan to re-post the blogs from 2017 (with a few adjustments as needed), allowing a person to read the Bible through in a year. This will not only accommodate those of you who were blessed and want to do it all over again (Yay! Isn't God's Word a joy!?), but it will also help out some who started late and didn't get all the way through the Word this year.
2) I also plan to start something new - Torah readings and studies. This coming year, I will be providing weekly Torah readings along with in-depth studies explaining the meaning behind the Commandments and Statutes found in the Law of Yahweh. Doing this is a protection against false doctrine (Isaiah 8:20) and is a powerful blessing (Psalm 1:1-3).
I hope you'll join me in 2018 as we search out the gems of Truth found in the Law of Yahweh, paying special attention to how the Statutes apply in our lives today...