Friday, July 20, 2012

Healing Our Land One Life At A Time


Many of the articles on this site address the spiritual roots of issues. The truth is, until we get down to the roots of a problem, the fruit of it will continue to be produced. This is why some people find their problems continue to resurface time and time again. When you can identify the spiritual roots of a problem a person can receive their healing. The same is true for healing our land.

When you see a land devastated by loss of jobs, economic collapse, high crime rate, high mortality rates and so on, you see a land that is suffering from a curse. God has said that when a people called by His name repent and turn from their sin, He will hear them; when they pray, He will respond by healing their land. (2 Chron. 7:14) “Land” is a phrase that includes more that just geographic location; it truly encompasses everything that touches a person’s life. It includes health, family relationships, mental and emotional health, financial restoration and it will overflow to actually produce a ripple effect. It will heal the agriculture and return the land to a state of fruitfulness. We can actually see that this is true because there are documentary videos that explain this incredible transformation. (Please see this video link for one of the amazing city transformations God has done throughout the earth.  http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VLgvllpkZIk  )   The transformation is so complete that it has healed cities and healed the land. It is not that God is not willing; we, the people, have been negligent in upholding our end of the deal. Either we have been ignorant of how to properly address the spiritual roots of the problem, or we have just been too rebellious to care. Either way, healing our cities seems to elude us. The curse of broken families, mental and emotional instability, physical disease, drought, lack, and poverty remain unbroken.

When people suffer from unfulfilled dreams, broken families, grief and deep disappointment, it produces many emotional responses such as fear, bitterness, anger and contention. It can also produce apathy and a lack of concern towards others that are also hurting and in need of spiritual and emotional healing. People tend to retreat into themselves and keep walls up that shut others out. This deep and overbearing heaviness produces grief, depression, emotional problems, and physical and health related problems such as heart disease.  The Bible tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick. A broken spirit makes for a heart that is sick, discouraged and heavy in every way. A heart that is sick spiritually will eventually manifest in physical illness and disease as well.

Cancer, on the other hand, often has its spiritual roots in things such as broken covenants, broken trust and loyalty issues, unforgiveness and bitterness. Cancers in the lower digestive tract and reproductive organs are indicative of the things people "feed" on.

The things that people dwell on feed their thoughts. It affects their inner man, and people conform to the sum effects of their thought life. Over time, negativity will create a different belief system than the one God intended us to have. People suffer from identity issues, failing to understand the incredible greatness and potential that has been placed inside of them by their loving Father and Creator. And so, they adopt the world’s value system, changing their identity from one of greatness into one that resembles what they believe about themselves. It doesn't matter whether or not it is true, people simply reflect what they believe. Deception is simply Satan’s method of creating a false identity meant to conform us to a counterfeit image that is void of power, void of purity, wholeness, strength, and greatness. Society is overflowing with people that have no idea who their Father is, or whose image in which they were created.The young man that went on the recent shooting spree in Colorado is evidence of a person that bought into the lies of the enemy and became a weapon in the enemy's hand.


We live what we believe - about ourselves, life situations, God and others. A person’s belief system shapes their perception and their actions naturally conform to what ever is deeply rooted in their belief system. If fear and anger are at the root of a person’s belief system, they will model it by becoming suspicious, controlling, manipulative or overbearing in how they treat others. If they feel inferior, unwanted or unloved, they may show it by lack of respect for themselves and others, reckless living and addictions. We cannot afford to live with broken hearts. Our lives and the future of the next generation - our children’s future - depends on us. We must care enough about ourselves that we choose to be healed. We must care enough about the future of our family to get down to the root of our issues and take care of business - between ourselves and God, each other, and allow the sickness in our own spirits to be healed. We cannot afford to raise another generation of children that come from broken families. We cannot afford to raise another generation of kids that feel abandoned, unwanted or unloved simply because the parents were broken themselves and didn’t know how to be healed. As the old saying goes it takes a village to raise a child. If we are going to raise emotionally and spiritually healthy children then each individual must be touched by what transforms and heals them: the power of LOVE and the transforming PRESENCE and POWER of GOD. Transformation occurs one life at a time. Healing begins first with an individual, expands outward to release healing to the family, and outwardly as a ripple effect to transform a community. It begins by healing one life at a time.

God is looking for people to partner with Him. He wants to turn the heart of His cities back to Him, but it starts with you. It starts with me. Each one of us. I want to see the city of Escondido where I live transformed by the power of God. Escondido is known as the "heart of San Diego's North County." God hasn't lost His heart for healing our cities, but often people have lost their heart for God. It's time to impact our families, communities and cities with love, outreach, generosity, kindness and compassion that helps heal the hearts of those that live here. It doesn't have to be part of an organized church sponsored event to impact others. Just be the church where ever you live. Be the change you want to see happen. Live to bless others and it will automatically begin to happen. You'll see, it's true! People just need to know someone cares. Never underestimate the power of an act of kindness!! We have so many testimonies of how God has softened rebellious hearts, healed people from various diseases and transformed people by the power of love. Only love will soften an angry heart. Only compassion can lead a person towards forgiveness and wanting to see God heal broken hearts.

Cities are full of people that are hurting. From the well dressed business man to the runway model that seems to have it all; from the struggling teenage student trying to figure out their path in life to the homeless man, woman or child on the street, discarded by society...and yes, even those in our own families that are hurting and feel no one understands their pain - we are surrounded by people silently crying out to be understood, heard, and healed. It is time we reach out and step outside of ourselves. It is the only way to heal heal our land. Take time to listen. Show that you care. I will say it again: Never underestimate the power of an act of kindness. It might just diffuse a potential problem you never knew was coming. It might change a person's heart towards the lies the enemy has been spinning in their head. Each person plays a vital part in healing our land.


No matter how bad a situation may seem, don’t curse it with negative words. No matter how hopeless a person might appear, never count them out of the game. God is on the sidelines cheering them on and encouraging them not to give up. He has a day of breakthrough appointed for each person! No matter how impossible a situation may appear, make a choice to believe God for the turnaround! Don’t curse your city leaders. Pray for them. They need wisdom as much as you do. Don’t curse your employer. Speak blessing. No matter how your spouse or kids or other family members may try your patience, hurt or offend you - choose to forgive. Make a choice to take the high road. Demonstrate grace. Someday you might need it demonstrated to you. Be generous. Life is hard, but we can help each other up. Real faith isn’t living in a fantasy land or pretending that things don’t hurt and disappoint us at times. Real faith proves that it is genuine by treating others the way you hope and believe they can be - even while you are still waiting to see the change. Faith believes the impossible can and does exist and lives as though that is already the reality of any given situation. It is a challenge? Yes. But living in such a manner demonstrates that you don’t feel the need to play God in someone else’s life and you really do trust God to make the changes in the lives of those you care about. A positive attitude releases others to change and become the person Christ had in mind all along. This is genuine faith. Faith releases itself in positive responses to others that actually propels and generates a momentum of healing. It’s like the propeller on the back of a boat. It pushes things forward. Stop and think about all that you can use faith as a force to accomplish. It is a force that will propel things forward in your life. Utilize your faith to accomplish the impossible. Faith is what moves the mountains out of the way. When you let go of your judgments, let go of your fears, and let God work through ordinary acts of love and kindness, truly anything becomes possible.

PRAYER:

Father God,

I thank you for releasing my heart to trust You in every one of my life situations. I thank You that You alone know how to get around the walls I have put up in my heart, and those in the hearts of others as well. Father God, start with me. Show me the truth that will get down to the root of what ails my heart. I want to live whole, free and full of joy. Holy Spirit, please lead me into the truth that will make me free and release my heart to be fully healed. Fill me with You. Fill me with joy. Set my life in order. Show me the path of life that You have planned for me. Jesus, I entrust my family to You. You gave Your life for us and You can be trusted. Holy Spirit, show me what You would like me to do for someone else. Help me be the person that is propelled by faith and love to help bring healing to others! I ask that You do the same for others as I have asked You to do for me. Help me to give them room to hear from You. I thank You for healing us and strengthening the bonds of love, faithfulness and loyalty in our family, in our community, and throughout the city where we live. Help each person to take the time to care for others. Help us to show compassion, listen and be an agent that releases healing to others. In Jesus name, Amen.



Here is a short video clip from last year titled "Taking It To The Streets", when we simply set up a prayer booth down by the pier and offered prayer. We handed out cookies, water, and asked the Lord to bring people we could pray for, and He did. We have done this sort of thing many times in a variety of different places. People always respond! Get creative, get out of the box and watch what the Lord will do to bring transformation to your city!

Here is another video of a crusade we did in Pensacola, FL a few years back. We fed hundreds of homeless people that day and for many days afterward as a new outreach in the park was approved by city officials. They gave us Corrine Jones Park to feed the homeless every week. It became part of the answer to healing a very troubled part of the city. Many came for food, but left changed. Our team prayed for them, ministered healing and we saw many, many miracles. God will do amazing things when you just step out in faith. He is among the homeless, the downtrodden and the rejected members of society just as much as He is anywhere else. Never give up on those that may appear in hopeless situations! https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?v=102506463100576

Sunday, July 1, 2012

Pulling Out A Bitter Root


You may wonder how a person can go through difficult and painful life experiences and come out without bitterness. I was very, very bitter after enduring some of the things I’ve had to deal with. My husband says, “We can live focused on the woes of life, or we can live focused on the 'wows' of God. Focusing on our woes invites misery, but focusing on gratitude for the many ways that God wows us invites the presence of God to invade our circumstances. Praising God creates an atmosphere that is inviting to Him, an invitation to invade your life and change your woes into wows.” If you knew my husband, he is a very positive person. He is full of joy. He always chooses to think the best about others and his motto is, life is too short to live with anger, bitterness or regret. Let it go. I thank God for Norm. One lesson he taught me early on is to praise God in the midst of the storms of life. Praise Him no matter what. Worship is a decision of the heart to honor God whether whether or not we feel like it. Worship transforms us. Worship actually makes us more compliant, willing to change, and willing to please God.  


A heart that refuses to worship God will retain negative emotions, lies in their belief system and unforgiveness towards others. Bitterness is often associated with anger and grudges. We will get to that, but I would like to first address that which is the result of deep unresolved emotional pain. Some disappointments in life are directed towards certain life events that have occurred. Death of a loved one, financial loss or things that cripple our ability to bounce back, such as prolonged illness can all cause grief, deep disappointment and disillusionment. Grief, despair and disillusionment have turned many people into accusers against God. They believe He could or should have prevented their pain and disappointment. Blaming God always sets us at odds with God. He resists the proud. Accusing God of failure is pretty much the same as calling him a liar. It’s saying He is unfaithful and unable to be trusted. These are dangerous thoughts to embrace, for absolutely nothing good can come from it. God is not man like us; He is our Creator and is deserving of honor and respect. Retaining bitterness is a choice. It is unbelieving, faithless and irreverent.


There are also life events in which people are offended with others for various reasons and refuse to forgive. The Bible says that unless we forgive those that have sinned against us, we are not forgiven. (Matt. 6:15) If we do not forgive, we are thrown into a spiritual prison and turned over to the tormentors until we have paid every last penny. (Matt. 5:26) 1 John 4:18 tells us that fear involves torment. Fear with torment is the consequence for disobedience to God and the refusal to forgive those that have hurt or offended us. A key indicator that one has retained unforgiveness towards someone else is the evidence that long after the incident occurred, they continue to rehearse old offenses, perceived wrong and injury. Bitterness is a poison that grieves the Holy Spirit, defiles and offends others, and causes many kinds of sin and iniquity. The fruit of bitterness is corrupt and will always produce evil. How often we chalk up bad fruit in a person's life to something we consider harmless. We must exercise discernment to understand when in fact the root is defiled, corrupt and produces more of the same. An evil root will never produce good fruit. According to Romans 3:14-18, the person who is defiled with bitterness speaks in such a way as to curse themselves and others with poisonous words. They are quick to act with injustice, and destruction and misery are ingrained in their ways. They are not peacemakers. They have no fear of God.


Misery loves company, and bitterness relives and repeats the woes of life. The chorus of complaints is led by a spirit of self pity. The danger of self pity is that it is the same as idol worship. Self pity demands worship. It elicits worship from others in the form of seeking attention, sympathy, and affirmation (a form of praise). “Self” (or the person controlled by the spirit of self pity) becomes god and those that feed this spirit become the person’s co-dependent supporters and worshippers. Self pity cannot survive without feeding it’s need for worship, but the very essence of this root is bitter. It will only ever produce bad fruit. The danger of one who allows self pity and bitterness to remain, is that it presumes a wrong view of eternal security. The person is deceived into believing that they are in right relationship with God, or that grace will always be available to them, though they walk in stubbornness of heart. It is the presumption of grace that causes a person to harden their heart towards genuine repentance, choosing a lifestyle of sin over obedience to God. The Spirit desires to do the right thing and forgive. Our mind, will and emotions can be resistant, but it takes consistent, determined effort to resist the Holy Spirit and His desire to see us healed. That is why this is a sobering topic, for the penalty for retaining bitterness and unforgiveness is severe. It can literally cost a person everything, including their salvation. The ultimate fruit of bitterness is apostasy.


If it were not for the torment in our soul, would we stop to consider the cause? Would we not grow so tired of ourselves and our misery that we would then be willing to change? The enemy uses bitterness to defile a person’s heart, and defile others. His goal is to slowly but deliberately draw a person into deception so that they presume grace and make allowances for disobedience. A person’s heart ever so slowly becomes insensitive towards conviction and the Holy Spirit trying to draw them back towards the Father. They gradually become so desensitized to their need to repent that at some point it becomes impossible for them to feel the desire to do so. Eventually if no genuine repentance occurs, the person becomes lost forever, eternally separated from God. Though it pains us to think that God would willingly allow torment to afflict us, every purpose of God is redemptive. He allows affliction to torment our thoughts (sometimes our physical body, too) to drive us into Him so that we can be healed. He is the Great Physician. How great His love is; how great is His mercy! He wants us to come to Him and inquire what is wrong so that we may be healed and set free from all toxic roots and deadly sins, but He does not pardon transgression and rebellion until we repent. As long as sin festers, we are in chains, but in the day that we draw near to Him, His immediate response is, “Do not fear!”

Prayers of repentance and renouncement often take time to work into deeper levels of release. Our mind and will can acknowledge the necessity to move towards obedience to God, but the actual healing comes one layer at a time. Bitterness is demonically empowered and is very resistant to letting go of the individual. Even when a person cooperates with God, it can still take a period of time for the full healing to manifest, because every person is unique. The period of time it takes is strictly between the individual and God.

Genuine forgiveness loosens the root of bitterness and allows it to come out, for the only response more powerful than this toxic spiritual weed is love. When it comes to diagnosing our own heart, sometimes we can be pretty slow and downright inaccurate. We can’t always trust our own opinion of ourselves, so we have to look for symptoms to make an accurate diagnosis.


DIAGNOSING THE HEART

A root of bitterness produces feelings like this:

  • The desire for the person that wounded or offended you to experience insecurity, embarrassment, shame or hurt.

  • A feeling that the person who hurt you is not worthy of blessing.

  • The feeling that the person who offended you hasn't done enough to make up for the wrong they have done.

  • A desire for them to receive punishment and judgment from God.

  • They don’t deserve to live.  

  • Criticisms begin to be directed at others and other situations.

  • Bitterness loves to rehearse the past. It also manifests in defensiveness, slandering those that hurt or offended you and involves others in venting toxic thoughts and feelings.

  • A bitter heart is an offended heart, and is quickly offended and frustrated with others, quick to lash out in anger. An angry person wounds others with harsh words and they may even catch themselves saying things they wish they would never have said, yet can‘t seem to stop doing it. It delights in a superior attitude that infects others with poisonous words.

  • Bitterness produces a desire to hurt, belittle, embarrass, shame or put guilt on others. It targets others with undeserved punishment, even though the perpetrator would be quick to deny it to themselves or others.

The only way to know if you have truly forgiven someone is to check your heart: do you have compassion toward them? Do you want to see them blessed, happy and successful? How you answer that may be all you need to diagnose your heart. If there is any hesitancy, or you can’t give a ‘yes’ answer, you may well need to examine your heart and ask the Lord to help you get free.

GETTING FREE

How does one arrive at true forgiveness? How does a person know that it is not just us trying to convince ourselves, but in fact an act of divine intervention that supplies the grace that allows us to genuinely forgive another person?

When wounds are deep and it seems that all our efforts fail to free our heart, what is required is both willingness on  our part, and divine intervention from the Lord. He never asks us to do something that He does not enable us to fulfill. Jesus said we must forgive others or God can not forgive our own sins, but He does not leave us without His help. He provides the grace to pull those stubborn weeds out of wounded, bitter hearts so that His love and grace will flow from vessels of integrity.

Until you see the offender in the light of your own human weakness and can bring yourself to identify with them as a person who has been wounded and made prey of by the enemy, it may be difficult to reach a place of genuine forgiveness. It is when we can accept the fact that the person who did wrong to us did so out of their own unresolved pain, perhaps their own fears or insecurities, and we are just as prone to making the same type of error if we had felt what they experienced. What would have happened if we had heard the enemy's logic as it had been whispered in their ears? How would we have reacted if we had felt the same emotions, listened to the enemy's twisted ideas of truth, and become prey to be used for wrongdoing? Could it be possible that we would have committed the same type of fault? Have you, perhaps in times past, done something similar?

I know that there are some things that are just plain heinous, such as unthinkable things that predators have done to willfully harm others. Yet, they too were once just children. Innocents that had something inexplicable or perhaps unimaginable done to them. The wounded, if they are never healed, go on to become predators themselves, lashing out to hurt and offend others or willfully mistreat them. It doesn't excuse wrong behavior, but it helps us understand it. It is truly only God's grace that can intervene and allow us to see deep hurt and offense in this light. It is the piercing light of His love that allows compassion to arise, enabling us to forgive those that have hurt us. This is the divine gift of God's grace, to forgive with genuine humility of heart. When your heart has truly released the person that offended you, you will know it, because you will feel your heart soften towards them. You will experience the gift of compassion that allows you to be forever free from those old wounds.

It doesn't necessarily mean that the person we have forgiven is off the hook with God; but it means that we are. If we are to ever recover real joy and peace, we must ask God for His ability to see the perpetrators through His eyes, for in doing so He also grants His ability to forgive. Compassionately. All human beings, no matter how grave their sin and faults, are prone to being used by the enemy to inflict unnecessary pain. Undoubtedly, we all have been guilty of this at one time or another.

It was for this cause that God sent His only Son, Jesus Christ, to walk among man and demonstrate Divine Love and Grace. Intellectually we may know this to be true and accept the word of God. But until we model it...live it...demonstrate it...we fall tremendously short of being Christ-like. God gives us challenges with human relationships not so that we can dwell upon the pain, but so that we have endless opportunities to demonstrate that we truly KNOW Him.

We must work through the issue until the emotional sting is no longer present when you think of that person or event.  I pray that truth will set you free and that you will come to a place where you can trust God with whatever injustice, offense, and wounds you’ve incurred. Real repentance that pleases God is when the heart connects with our prayer and we truly want to forgive the one who offended us and get in right relationship with God. We have a genuine change of heart that feels compassion, forgiveness or even pity towards the one the enemy used to offend us, and it’s not dependent on anything they do or don’t do.

When God showed me the reality of my own spiritual condition, I was sad at my own lack of faithfulness towards the Lord. Ultimately, that is what He wants us to feel when we realize our own sin, because godly sorrow leads us to real repentance. I realized that I had placed my faith and trust in a desire for justice, rather than praying blessing upon those that had been used to hurt me. I should have said, like Jesus, "Forgive them, Father. They know not what they do." I should have been praying for their souls and asking God to show them mercy. I had not placed my faith and trust in the Lord to be my shield and defense. My confidence was in the wrong things. I had changed God into a god of my own understanding, yet I never realized I had done so.

Witchcraft is energized by negative emotions and anger. That is why we must do everything possible to purify our hearts and get rid of all unforgiveness, anger, offense, malice and bitterness. Christian or not, if a person operates in a spirit of bitterness and allows that to be released through their prayers, it will attract more demonic spirits. That is how the enemy reproduces a curse into a person’s life. He creates the situation that allows a door to be opened, and then he has legal entrance. The only way to shut the door on him and get him out is through repentance.  

BITTERNESS AND WITCHCRAFT

Proverbs 5 talks about the seduction of an immoral woman, yet the reference is to a seducing
spirit that leads people away from loyalty to the ways of God and turns them into adulterers.

“My son, pay attention to my wisdom;
Lend your ear to my understanding,
That you may preserve discretion
And your lips may keep knowledge.
For the lips of an immoral woman
Drip honey and her mouth is smoother than oil;
But in the end she is bitter as wormwood,
Sharp as a two-edged sword.
Her feet go down to death;
Her steps lay hold of hell.
Lest you ponder her path of life -
Her ways are unstable; you do not know them.
Therefore hear me now, my children,
And do not depart from the words of my mouth.
Remove your way from her,
And do not go near the door of her house,
Lest you give your honor to others,
And your years to the cruel one;
Lest aliens be filled with your wealth,
And your labors go to the house of a foreigner,
And you mourn at last.
When your flesh and your body are consumed,
And say: “How I have hated instruction,
And my heart despised correction!
I have not obeyed the voice of my teachers,
Nor inclined my ear to those who instructed me!
I was on the verge of total ruin,
In the midst of the assembly and congregation.”
(Proverbs 5:1-14)

The “immoral or strange woman” described in the Proverbs is a warning against spiritual adultery and unfaithfulness towards the Lord. Dreams often reveal hints and clues of this spiritual condition. The seduction of demonic spirits is through twisting perception of truth and the art of deception. Proverbs warns us to guard our hearts against such perverseness and preserve our ability to discern evil. We must preserve discretion lest we follow the wrong thoughts and attitudes down the steps to death. If thoughts come to tempt you towards rehearsing offense, painful memories and other negative thoughts, recognize that this is the “immoral woman” attempting to seduce you away from being loyal to the Lord. It can also be called a Jezebel spirit because of the witchcraft involved. All witchcraft seduces people away from obedience to God and into idolatry, which God calls “adultery”. Spiritual adultery allows a curse to enter a person’s life that will eventually rob them.

Bitterness works in tandem with a spirit of witchcraft to keep a person bound and deceived. In Acts 8:14 Peter encountered a sorcerer that was known to be quite influential in his city. Simon, who was also called Peter, rebuked the sorcerer for attempting to buy the gift of the Holy Spirit in order to gain access to God’s power. But Peter said to him, “Your money perish with you, because you thought that the gift of God could be purchased with money! You have neither part nor portion in this matter, for your heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thoughts of your heart may be forgiven you. For I see that you are poisoned by bitterness and bound by iniquity.” (Acts 8:20-23).

The King James version uses the word “gall” in the above scripture. Gall in this portion of scripture means the essence of bitterness or poison. It has a stupefying effect. It is literally like a drug that intoxicates a person and allows them to be under the influence of another spirit. If we can't seem to recognize the truth of our own spiritual reality, often God communicates this truth through dreams involving drinking, drug use or addictions. What He is trying to say is, “You are under the influence of a spirit that is not my Holy Spirit.” This spirit of stupor literally desensitizes the person that is under the influence and blinds them of their own need to repent. Lying spirits whisper false realities, creating an illusion of deception in the person’s mind and heart, keeping them bound to sin and iniquity. Many people get so used to listening to these wrong voices that they mistake them for the voice of God. A spirit of python or pythos which is divination and witchcraft, will also bind a person’s faith, vision, and dreams for the future and cause them to feel hopeless, perpetuating the spirit of bitterness. It literally tries to suffocate the life out of the individual. It steals God’s vision and replaces it with a counterfeit. It becomes like a mirage, or false vision placed before the person under the influence of deception. It keeps people looking back at past events rather than on the “new” thing God has for their future.

From a personal point of view, if one is blind to their own need to repent for something, it can seem quite harsh to try and seek answers and be stuck in darkness, but again, it is one of God's methods of communicating. If a person is a Christian and cannot hear from God, but has in the past, the silence is there to act as a wake up call so the person will begin to ask the right questions. Disobedience allows evil seeds to grow within us. Refusing to forgive, refusing to love or show mercy, and refusing to walk in obedience allows evil seeds to grow within us. These evil seeds grow and begin to choke out the life of the Holy Spirit. When the Holy Spirit is grieved and His life is choked out, it begins to produce bad fruit in the person’s life. Broken fellowship with God and disobedience causes revelation to be withheld. Darkness and confusion keep a person stuck, confused and discouraged. Demonic oppression, affliction, disorder and crisis torment the life of the person that is bound. Understandably, many become angry at God because they do not see nor understand their own cooperation with the enemy. They may blame God for feelings of abandonment. Hurt, disappointment, anger and offense are not just directed at individuals but at God. A spirit of accusation and pride becomes their stumbling block, preventing them from receiving anything from Him until they repent and come humbly, acknowledging His ways are perfect and the fault is not His. Many people blame God for their lack of understanding and therefore perish for lack of knowledge. This is not God’s fault. We have a responsibility to seek Him. He has made truth available through His word and His Spirit.

When the disciples came to Jesus and asked why they couldn’t deliver a particular person, Jesus responded with the answer that some spiritually rooted issues could not be resolved except by prayer and fasting. Sometimes the truth you need to be set free will only come when you humble your body and allow the spirit man to become the stronger influence. Greater is He that is within you than he that is in the world.

Bitterness is a poison. It is also elsewhere in scripture referred to as the “poison of asps” that comes through toxic words laced with death. (Ps. 140:3; Rom. 3:13; James 3:8). It brings a curse, often times brought on with our own words of negativity. That is why the Bible warns us to guard our heart, for out of it spring the issues of life.

“Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord; 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; lest there be any fornicator or profane person like Esau, who for one morsel of food sold his birthright.” Hebrews 12:14-16.

The reason Esau is mentioned in this portion of scripture is because there is a direct connection between a bitter, unbelieving heart and how it affects a person’s attitude towards God. How a person relates to God also has a direct correlation to whether or not they receive their spiritual inheritance and fulfill their calling. Esau was defiled by bitterness. We know this to be true because Esau was so bitter he wanted to kill his brother. That is why Jacob took off to find refuge in the house of his uncle, Laban. Scripture ties the relationship of bitterness in the heart resulting in a loss of inheritance. Esau represents the flippant disrespect of a faithless person that is undeserving of God’s blessings. Esau is noted to be a fornicator as well as profane. Through this choice of words we understand that he was marked by contempt and irreverence towards the things that were held sacred. Another word for irreverent is blasphemous. Those are very strong words, but we gain an understanding of how serious it is to treat God with disdain. Scripture says that God loved Jacob but hated Esau. One must understand that the word ‘hate’ means indifference or not to chose. God did not choose Esau to inherit His promises because Esau did not choose to honor God or value the spiritual inheritance God had intended for him. In the natural, Esau was blessed. He had wealth and he had many descendants. But, he lost the blessing that had originally been intended for him. God allowed Jacob to take it because Jacob valued what Esau despised. “For you know that afterward, when he wanted to inherit the blessing, he was rejected, for he found no place for repentance, though he sought it diligently with tears.” Hebrews 12:17.

Esau is representative of the person that refuses to take God seriously and through casual disregard ends up despising God’s good plan for their life. God’s decision to not choose Esau is based on Esau’s rejection of God. It is not a light thing to despise the goodness of God. Neither is it a light thing to reject the grace that is available to us so that we may be healed. Unforgiveness over a prolonged period of time becomes  bitterness. Allowing bitterness to take root in our heart is dangerous because it causes a person’s heart to be hardened. Our own sin cannot be forgiven under these circumstances, according to scripture. What is even more dangerous is to hold on to bitterness and resist  God's offer of healing.  To refuse Him is to deny the cross, and disregard the blood that was shed on our behalf for our healing and deliverance. It rejects Jesus Christ and tramples on the blood that he shed willingly on our behalf.

It takes faith to trust God with our heart issues. It takes faith to trust God with those that have treated us unjustly. It takes faith to honor God with our responses. God is not looking for us to be perfect; He has provided for Himself the answer to our sinful condition through the atoning blood of His Son, Jesus Christ. What God looks for is a heart that is perfect towards Him. He looks for a heart that is wholly turned towards Him and is quick to repent of wrongdoing.

If we were to count sin, who could stand? For no man comes to God on their own good works or proclaiming their own righteousness; man is allowed to draw near to God because of the propitiation of sins provided by God’s own son, (Romans 3:25). Righteousness is imputed to us by the faith we profess in Jesus Christ, that His word is true and His character just. If we say we trust Him, then we must demonstrate that reality by turning over our offenses, hurts, wounds and desire for retribution towards those that have hurt us. Anything else is a lack of faith.

Previously I made the comment that I found myself at a crossroads. I was unable to remove the root of bitterness through simple prayers of renouncement, yet I was willing to be obedient. I earnestly wanted the forgiveness to be genuine. I did not want the ramifications of this bitter root in my life anymore. I told the Lord I was stuck and did not know how to proceed. Holy Spirit gently reminded me of times when I had been guilty of committing the same type of sin that I had judged someone else of doing to me. He reminded me of memories I had long forgotten. Yet, it was my own personal experience that allowed me to understand why I had acted in a similar manner many years ago. I then understood the emotions, thoughts and feelings of the person that perpetuated the hurt towards me. I was then able to feel compassion towards those the enemy had used to inflict hurt. Faced with the truth, I realized I had no right to judge anyone else. All of us were sinners; each person has the same opportunity to be forgiven, healed and set free. If I elevated my judgments rather than mercy, the mercy I wanted God to extend to me could be taken from me. If we want to be the recipient of God’s mercy, then we must do something to demonstrate we qualify for His mercy. It’s called repentance. The decision was clear and my heart readily agreed. This was an uncollectable debt; it was no longer owed. And, at that moment, my own debt was released. My heart testified that forgiveness was genuine and it was complete. The root of bitterness had been extracted and I was free. When compassion enters your heart towards those that have hurt or offended you in some way, you know you have arrived at a place of deliverance and healing.

Divine grace is a gift. God never commands that we do something that is impossible for us. He provides the means necessary to carry out our obedience. What He did for me, He can do for you, if you simply ask. Tell Him where you are stuck. Ask Him for this gift. Ask Him for the revelation that will move your heart towards compassion. It may be hard, but it’s the right thing to do. His grace is sufficient for anything you need.

THE POWER THAT HEALS

So many people struggle with unforgiveness and bitterness. What is bound up inside of us causes restriction, constriction and can literally stop the flow of the Holy Spirit in a person’s life. BItterness will literally shut off the power of God. It is the power of the Holy Spirit that produces strength to overcome any problem. The joy of the Lord is our strength. It is the power of God that needs to be loosed in our life and in the lives of those we encounter that will reverse the curse and set people free so that they too can experience the goodness of God and worship Him.

Families are broken, churches and Christians are powerless and barren, businesses crumble, communities feel the weight of the sin and everyone that is affected suffers the effect of curses that need to be broken. Bitterness can cause barrenness. The prophet Elisha understood the cause of barrenness. In 2 Kings 2, there is a story about some men in a particular city that sought him out and said, "Please notice, the situation of this city is pleasant, as my lord sees; but the water is bad and the ground barren." Bitter water is unable to be consumed. Whether it’s in the natural water, or spiritual food that we feed to others, if it’s defiled, it will make people sick. Bitterness creates a lot of problems and barrenness is the result of the curse. Elisha understood the solution to the problem, though. It's found in each one of us. "And he (Elisha) said, "Bring me a new bowl, and put salt in it." So they brought it to him. Then he went to the source of the water and cast in the salt there, and said, "Thus says the Lord: 'I have healed this water; from it there shall be no more death or barrenness." (2 Kings 2:19-21). Jesus said in Matthew 5:13 that we are the salt of the earth. He also warned us not to lose our ‘saltiness,’ or we’d be good for nothing. Salt is both a  preservative and natural remedy used for healing. The "new bowl" is the form of Christians moving out of the buildings and into their communities. It is being salt and light, releasing the wonderful ‘flavor’ of God into our families, workplace and communities through our testimonies and allowing the gifts of the Holy Spirit to minister to others. The act of ‘being salt’ is to release the healing power of God through the love of a pure heart, bringing gentleness and comfort to those bound by cords of sin. We can't take our bitterness with us. God wants us healed so that we can heal others. It's time to unload the baggage so that the power of Holy Spirit can flow unhindered.

The scripture in John 7:38 reminds us of Jesus’ words, that “He who believes in Me, as the scripture has said, “out of his heart will flow rivers of living water.” Some translations say “belly” or “innermost being”. When the Holy Spirit is released, out of the very depths of our being LIFE will flow like a river. Ezekiel 47 also mentions a “river” flowing with life, and the leaves are for healing of the nations. Wherever the river flowed, there was life. Many fish (which represents souls) are drawn to the healing waters where there is life. The trees planted by the river gave good fruit which was used for food, and the leaves were like medicine for the nations.

God wants to release you from bitterness and the toxic effects of poison and give you a divine exchange. He wants to release rivers of living water inside of you. He wants you to be full of the Holy Spirit and full of joy, peace and strength. Holy Spirit wants to come and fill you with power that will be medicine to others.

Father God,

I thank You for showing me anyone I might still need to forgive. Bring their name to mind, Lord. I want to please You, so I ask for a gift of Divine Grace to be poured out into my heart. I ask You to enable me to see those that have hurt or offended me through Your eyes. Help me to see them through eyes of compassion so that I can truly forgive and be healed. Help me to recover my joy, Lord, for it is joy that becomes my strength to overcome. Help me to recover peace and experience Your presence in a greater way. Forgive me Lord, for I need Your forgiveness and Your mercy every day.

“Come, Holy Spirit! Spring up, O well! Let your river flow. Let your power flow. Let your river move all the obstacles out of the way. Let it cleanse, heal and restore my vessel. Holy Spirit, forgive me for any way that I have personally grieved you, retained unforgiveness or bitterness and made room for the enemy in my life. I choose to forgive anyone that has hurt or offended me. I realize those debts are uncollectable! Forgive me for quenching Your Spirit and drying up the river within me. Fill me to overflowing with Your love. Let the new wine fill this earthen jar and fill me with joy unspeakable and full of glory! Let my heart be released and may Your power overflow to my neighbors. Let it flow like a river into the streets and into our cities. Let your power be released inside of me to heal the nations and transform lives, everywhere I go, in Jesus name. Amen.”

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