How Not to Walk, Part 21 (Revive the Family, Revive the Church, Awaken the Nation, O Lord #267)

spiritual-warfare

A series of homilies on Ephesians.

A homily is “a short talk on a religious or moral topic; a usually short sermon; a lecture or discourse on or of a biblical theme.”


I am sharing a verse-by-verse series of short messages on Ephesians (as well as other passages of Scripture) specifically targeted at reviving families and encouraging and exhorting husbands, wives, fathers, mothers, and children to do what God has commanded them to do, for if the church is to be revived and the country is to be awakened, the family must be revived first.

TEXT: Ephesians 4:30-31:

30 And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.

31 Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:

—-

Andrew Bonar said, “We must continue in prayer if we are to get an outpouring of the Spirit. Christ says there are some things we shall not get, unless we pray and fast — yes, prayer and fasting. We must control the flesh and abstain from whatever hinders direct fellowship with God.”

Leonard Ravenhill said, “How do you learn to pray? Well, how do you learn to swim? Do you sit in a chair with your feet up drinking Coke learning to swim? No, you get down and you struggle. That’s how you learn to pray. Prayer is our strength; prayer generates strength; it generates vision; it generates power. And the devil wilI drive you away from the prayer closet more than anything.”

In their book, The Ten Greatest Revivals Ever, Elmer Towns and Douglas Porter share with us: “For the next three months, Peter Cartwright searched long and fervently for God. Conviction of sin was so great he was incapable of going about his chores; he couldn’t seem to find pardon for his sins. When he heard about the great camp meeting of the Cane Ridge Revival, he attended and went forward with multitudes of weeping ‘seekers’ to bow and earnestly pray for mercy.”

—-

Today, we return to the topic of bitterness — a sin that can be a temptation for everybody, but one that especially grieves the Holy Spirit of God. According to the Expositor’s Bible Commentary, bitterness is the opposite of kindness. It is the spite that harbors resentment and keeps a score of wrongs. In the New Testament, the word is used in a metaphorical sense to describe animosity, resentfulness, harshness, or an openly-expressed emotional hostility against an enemy. Merriam Webster’s defines bitterness as something “felt or experienced in a strong and unpleasant way; being angry and unhappy because of unfair treatment.”

We have all had the experience of unfair treatment at some time in our lives. The thing that separates the Christian from the world, the new man from the old man, is in how we respond to it. Do we hold on to our negative feelings or do we let them go?

The Holy Spirit is described in Scripture as ‘abiding’ with us. The word ‘abiding’ connotes a still restfulness in our souls, a comfortability — a place where the Holy Spirit feels at home. Bitterness is also something that abides. It is a brooding, simmering attitude of hatred and negativity toward someone else. The spirit of bitterness cannot rest alongside the Holy Spirit, and when the attempt is made, the Holy Spirit is grieved.

Christians are commanded to be ‘filled’ with the Holy Spirit, who is also described as a ‘consuming fire.’ Bitterness is also a spirit that ‘fills’ and ‘consumes.’ Helen Grace Lesheid wrote, “Bitterness grows. It distorts reality. It keeps us chained to the past. Like bad air, it pollutes not just the bitter person, but those who come in contact with the person.” You must decide whether your bitterness toward someone is worth grieving the Holy Spirit in your life. You cannot have both; you must choose to let go of one — the bitterness or the Holy Spirit.

In a poem titled “The Cure for Bitterness,” Deborah Ann Belka wrote:

Bitterness is a bitter pill,
that at times we all swallow
causing a pool of self pity
where misery loves to wallow.

At first, the acid taste,
doesn’t bother us too much
for we feel justified in our pain
and to our anger we still clutch.

As we take our daily dose,
our sweet revenge turns a little tart
but we don’t seem to notice
as the root of spite buds in our heart.

We take our correct measure,
each morning when we awake
for we are not willing to forgive
and aren’t wanting to forsake.

The cure for bitterness,
can’t be found in any kind of pill
but you will find the treatment
when you learn to know God’s will.

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