VIDEO Stop the Spread

Looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled. Hebrews 12:15

Many Southern home gardeners have made the mistake of planting mint to enjoy in their iced tea in the summer. After a few years they dig up the mint and then discover a year later that they didn’t dig up the mint. It’s still growing and spreading. Mint is one of many decorative yard species that are hard to eradicate once they gain a foothold—especially those that spread by extending their roots (rhizomes) underground. Leaving even a sliver of root in the ground will guarantee that your yard will be continually “defiled.”

Speaking of roots that defile—the writer to the Hebrews warned about a “root of bitterness” that can spring up and defile many. In other words, bitterness is an invasive spiritual species that can spread quickly throughout a group of people. Moses warned the Israelites about letting their hearts turn away from God in pursuit of idols, becoming a “root among you that produces such bitter poison” (Deuteronomy 29:18, NIV).

Don’t be bitter. Rip up bitterness by the root! Stay focused on God’s love, grace, and forgiveness—and extend the same to everyone you are around.

Difficulties make us either better or bitter. Unknown

Adrian Rogers: The Root of Bitterness – RA2236

What’s Truly Needed

You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions. Mark 7:8

While preparing a meal, a young mother cut a pot roast in half before she put it in a large pot. Her husband asked her why she cut the meat in half. She replied, “Because that’s the way my mother does it.”

Her husband’s question, however, piqued the woman’s curiosity. So she asked her mother about the tradition. She was shocked to learn that her mother cut the meat so it would fit in the one small pot she used. And because her daughter had many large pots, the act of cutting the meat was unnecessary.

Many traditions begin out of a necessity but are carried on without question—becoming “the way we do it.” It’s natural to want to hold on to human traditions—something the Pharisees were doing in their day (Mark 7:1–2). They were distracted by what seemed like the breaking of one of their religious rules.

As Jesus said to the Pharisees, “You have let go of the commands of God and are holding on to human traditions” (v. 8). He revealed that traditions should never replace the wisdom of Scripture. A genuine desire to follow God (vv. 6–7) will focus on the attitude of our heart rather than outward actions.

It’s a good idea to consistently evaluate traditions—anything we hold close to our heart and follow religiously. The things that God has revealed to be truly needed should always supersede traditions.

By:  Katara Patton

Reflect & Pray

What are some of the traditions you hold fast to? How do they line up with what’s revealed in Scripture?

Heavenly Father, help me to follow Your commands and to forgo any tradition that conflicts with the Scriptures.

God’s Invitations

God wants you to enjoy all the benefits of an intimate relationship with Him Luke 9:57-62

God offers three invitations to every person He created. We are invited …

1. To receive Jesus and become a child of God (John 1:12-13). The Lord calls us to receive Him as our Savior and to have a personal relationship with Him through the indwelling of His Holy Spirit. This invitation includes laying down the burden of trying to work out salvation ourselves (Matthew 11:28-29). Instead, Christ invites us to trust Him to do the transforming work in us.

2. To abide in Jesus. Abiding means listening to God speak through Scripture, living in growing dependence on Him, knowing Him more intimately, and drawing upon His power in order to live a godly life. 

3. To follow Jesus. In order to follow the Lord, we must be familiar with His character and His plans. The evidence that we are following Him will appear in our attitude, conduct, character, conversation, and relationships.

God loves every individual He created and wants each one to know Him personally. Through the gift of salvation, we receive the Holy Spirit, who enables us to abide in Jesus and follow Him. This is the path to the joy and contentment God has planned for us. 

True Worship

“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth.” (John 4:24)

The word “worship” is used frequently today in Christian circles—in addition to worship services, we now have worship choruses, worship teams, worship manuals, worship seminars, etc. Often, however, the basic meaning of worship is misunderstood.

In the original Hebrew and Greek, the words translated “worship” mean simply to “bow down”! The Hebrew is so translated the first time it is used. When Abraham saw God and two angels approaching, “he ran to meet them from the tent door, and bowed himself toward the ground” (Genesis 18:2). That is, he recognized God’s “worthy-ship” and was submitting himself to do His will.

The last time “worship” is used is when John “fell down to worship before the feet of the angel.” He was corrected by the angel with these words: “See thou do it not:…worship God” (Revelation 22:8-9). Only God, our Creator and Savior, is worthy of true worship, and that worship involves simply bowing down in submission to do His will.

That is why it must be “in spirit and in truth.” Our spirit must submit to God who is Spirit, and this can only be in truth. Remember the words of the Lord Jesus concerning the Spirit whom He would send to indwell His followers: “When he, the Spirit of truth, is come, he will guide you into all truth:…He shall glorify me” (John 16:13-14).

He would do this by revealing God’s Word to the writers of the New Testament, just as He had for the Old (2 Peter 1:21). In His prayer to the Father, recorded by John, Christ prayed for us, saying, “Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17). True worship is simply submitting to and doing God’s will as made known by His written Word and the guidance of His Holy Spirit, thereby glorifying Christ. HMM

The Fever Cure

Mark 1:29-31

IN Mark 1:29-31, we have the terse, simple account of the healing of Peters wife’s mother. From the synagogue, the Lord Jesus enters Simon’s home. Simon’s mother-in-law is sick with a fever. They tell Jesus about her. He takes her by the hand, the fever leaves her. She arises and ministers unto them.

We live in a world sick with a persistent fever. No word can describe the present international condition better than “feverish.” Business has a fever. Religion the world over has a fever. We individuals live in a fever. Life may be spelled in three words: “Hurry, Worry, Bury.” We are getting on—but on where?

With some it is a fever of getting or spending, amassing the wealth of earth. The love of money is the root of all evil, and men are sick with that root disease. With some it is a fever of worry, fear, doubt—all of them close kin. With some it is ambition. Napoleon had a fever. Later, Hitler and Mussolini had it. And we lesser fry do not escape it. With some it is an evil spirit of unlove, bitterness, grudges that fester and create a fever that spoils all peace and joy. There is no peace to the wicked, for they are like the troubled sea when it cannot rest, whose waters cast up mire and dirt. Christians, too, do not enter into God’s rest and so live with a fever of self and flesh.

They told Jesus of the woman sick with a fever. “Are you weary? Are you heavy-hearted? Tell it to Jesus,” says the old hymn, and that is the only recourse that prevails. We tell our souls to flee like a bird to this and that mountain, but there is rest only in the Lord. Notice that others told Jesus of this case. We are to bring our fevered loved ones to the Lord.

He came and lifted her up, and the fever left her. How true throughout the ages! His touch turned James and John—sons of thunder—into calm, steady witnesses. His touch transformed Simon Peter—wilful, impulsive—into a rock. His touch transformed Saul—zealous Pharisee—into a mighty preacher. That does not mean that we become lifeless and dull when the fever departs. To put off the old man is not to “put on the old woman.” When we are suffering from a fever, we are of no benefit to others; we are taken up with ourselves. It is when we are freed from the fever that we can help others, being set free from ourselves. That leads us to this last consideration: The woman arose and ministered unto others. The Lord wants to heal our fevers so that we may serve Him with joy and peace. Serving Christ is the joyful expression of souls set free from their fevers and now free to help others. And there is no fretting in such service.

What is your fever? Let Him heal you that you may minister.

All things work together for good.

Genesis 41:37-43, 46-57

We left Joseph before Pharaoh, whose dream he had interpreted, and to whom he had given sage advice.

Genesis 41:38

Joseph’s words concerning the Lord had a manifest effect on idolatrous Pharaoh, and he spoke with reverence. We need never be ashamed to avow our faith. Good will come of holy speech.

Genesis 41:39-43

What a change from the prison to the chariot. Thus was the Lord Jesus uplifted from the grave, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow. Such honours in their degree shall all persecuted saints obtain either here or hereafter.

Genesis 41:46

Prosperity did not spoil him. He set about his business, and discharged the duties of his office with great diligence.

Genesis 41:47-51

Our afflictions leave no sting behind. The Lord’s love so rinses out our cup of sorrow that no bitterness remains. Such forgetfulness is sweet.

Genesis 41:52

Here again he ascribes his happiness to his God, and blesses him for his double gift. To forget the past, and bear fruit in the present is a precious boon.

Genesis 41:53-55

We may call this a typical gospel, for poor hungry sinners are now bidden to go unto Jesus, and what he saith unto them do. May we be every one of us led of the Spirit of God to seek unto him who alone can open the well-stored granaries of grace.

Genesis 41:57

To whom else can men go for salvation but to Jesus, the Saviour? Have all who join in this reading gone unto the Redeemer for heavenly bread? If not—why not?

Hail to the Prince of life and peace

Who holds the keys of death and hell!

The kingdoms of the earth are his,

And sovereign power becomes him well.

In shame and sorrow once he died,

But now he reigns for evermore;

Bow down ye saints before his feet,

And all ye angel-bands adore.

Stricter Discipline for God’s Willing Children

No chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness…. Hebrews 12:11

If God has singled you out to be a special object of His grace you may expect Him to honor you with stricter discipline and greater suffering than less favored ones are called upon to endure.

If God sets out to make you an unusual Christian He is not likely to be as gentle as He is usually pictured by the popular teachers. A sculptor does not use a manicure set to reduce the rude, unshapely marble to a thing of beauty. The saw, the hammer and the chisel are cruel tools, but without them the rough stone must remain forever formless and unbeautiful.

To do His supreme work of grace within you He will take from your heart everything you love most. Everything you trust in will go from you. Piles of ashes will lie where your most precious treasures used to be.

Thus you will learn what faith is; you will find out the hard way, but the only way open to you, that true faith lies in the will, that the joy unspeakable of which the apostle speaks is not itself faith but a slow-ripening fruit of faith. You will learn, too, that present spiritual joys may come and go as they will without altering your spiritual status or in any way affecting your position as a true child of the heavenly Father.

Then you will also learn, probably to your astonishment, that it is possible to live in all good conscience before God and men and still feel nothing of the “peace and joy” you hear talked about so much by immature Christians!