Monday, May 18, 2009


Revival is a word that gets thrown around a lot. It usually brings up images of lots of people, tents and emotion. In reality revival is about whole heartedly coming back to Jesus. Revive Magazine, put out by Life Action Ministries just had a whole issue on forgiveness being the path to revival.

Byron Paulus, Executive Director wrote “Because revival is all about restoring a relationship with Jesus, you cannot experience it in your own heart, family , or church until you learn to forgive - until you are set free from the shackles of bitterness.”

Bitterness and unforgiveness (I'm not sure that's a word) shouldn't be rampant in the church. We should be the ones out there offering love. And it should not be rampant in my own life. Sometimes I like to be angry and hold a grudge - it just feels good. I don't know why, maybe it feels better than to hurt.

What is standing in my way of a thriving relationship with Christ? Could it be unforgiveness and bitterness? Women seem to have a corner on this market. Men are more likely to say what they think, defend themselves and fight it out. Women, on the otherhand, are too relational. We smile and gloss things over on the outside but bottle things up inside and let it simmer in our hearts.

I started to ask God to show my areas in my life where I was bitter. And was I blown away. I have let anger, frustration, disappointment and fear turn into bitterness. I have allowed things to fill my life that breed it. My family possibly suffers the most. When I choose to live in bitterness, I'm not bringing the light of the Lord to the ones I love most.

How can I move away from that? How can I stop it? By forgiving. Forgiving is not letting the person off, it’s handing the situation over to God. And after all God has forgiven in my life it should be my desire to forgive others, even if it isn't easy.

I was noticing a phrase repeated several times in Job and Samuel. Both Hannah and Job prayed to God out of "bitterness of soul".

1 Samuel 1:10

In bitterness of soul Hannah wept much and prayed to the LORD.

Job 7:11
"Therefore I will not keep silent; I will speak out in the anguish of my spirit, I will complain in the bitterness of my soul.

Job 10:1
"I loathe my very life; therefore I will give free rein to my complaint and speak out in the bitterness of my soul.

Job 27:2
"As surely as God lives, who has denied me justice, the Almighty, who has made me taste bitterness of soul,

They didn't deny that their hurt and pain exist. They cried out to God in the midst of it. And that is where I fall down. I want to keep it or pretend it doesn't exist. But God wants me to cry out to Him and allow him to change me. I love that about God. Well, I love everything about God.

Ephesians 4:31-32
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. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Unfortunately, the bitterness in my heart usually comes out of my mouth. I say things that do not build others up or benefit those who listen. And that makes me sad, but it grieves God. I don't need to continue to let it stand in the way of a growing relationship with Christ. He is willing to forgive and He can change me. Then his love, compassion, grace and forgiveness can overflow into my family and others that come into my life.

Acts 8:23
For I see that you are full of bitterness and captive to sin.

Psalm 103:11-12
For as high as the heavens are above the earth,
so great is his love for those who fear him;
as far as the east is from the west,
so far has he removed our transgressions from us.

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