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Holy Week Devotions-Tuesday: Bitterness to Forgiveness

ID-10057612[1]“See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many.” Hebrews 12:15 (NIV)

“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14 (NIV)

Today is the second day of our Holy Week series, and the stanza of the poem that is our focus is the following:

Fast from bitterness; feast on forgiveness.

(Click here for the complete poem. Here is the first day of the series on Judging.)

Imagine sitting down on a hot summer day to a bowl full of frosty, juicy, crisp grapes that burst in your mouth with… bitterness. Can you imagine how awful that would taste? Bitterness leaves a bad taste in everyone’s mouth. According to Hebrews 12:15, we are to guard against bitterness because one bitter heart can defile and trouble many people. Bitterness is a sign of unforgiveness. In the original Greek, bitterness means “extreme wickedness, hatred, virulence and harshness.”  And as the Bible verse suggests, if left untended, bitterness will root and grow and produce a harvest of destruction. It’s true in our lives that a bitter root yields a bitter fruit.

The word bitter when traced back  to its origin means “to fasten, to fasten something together, to construct something by fastening it together.” So if we are bitter against a person in a literal sense by withholding forgiveness, we are fastening that person to us and dragging them with us wherever we may go! Do you see now one of the reasons why bitterness is so destructive? We are forever tying ourselves to that very thing we are bitter about, which is preventing us from healing. As Joyce Meyer says, “You may have a reason to be bitter, but by the word of God, you do not have a right.”

What is the antidote then for bitterness? Forgiveness. Forgiveness means to release someone from prison or from bondage. Forgiving28023ygngw1nics someone does not mean that what they did to us is okay; it means we are releasing them from our own vengeance and giving them over to God. Sometimes the one we may be bitter against and need to release from bondage is ourself.  This Easter let us pray and ask God to help make us willing to lay aside our bitterness and trade it in for forgiveness. Let’s set a few captives free. That’s what Easter is all about, isn’t it?

Application: So during this Holy Week, what is it that you need to leave at the feet of the cross? Who or what are you bitter against that you need to let go, that you need to forgive? Let the first captive that’s set free be you.

Prayer: Dear Lord, it can be difficult releasing bitterness. That heavy thing we’re dragging around feels normal after a while. Help us to let go, release, and forgive so that we can experience the joy and lightness of living in forgiveness and freedom. Amen.

Image courtesy of domdeen / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image: markuso / FreeDigitalPhotos.net




Happy Easter!

St. Augustine Easter Morning Sunrise

St. Augustine Easter Morning Sunrise

But he said to them, “Do not be alarmed. You seek Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He is risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid Him.

Very early on Easter morning Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James and Salome brought spices to Jesus’ tomb so that they might anoint His body. Can you imagine the surprise, the shock, the fear they must have felt in finding Jesus missing from His tomb and in His place a heavenly messenger with the stunning news that Jesus had risen from the dead?! They were the first to receive this news, and yet they were so afraid that the Bible tells us they fled from the tomb and said nothing to anyone. I am sure they were trying to piece together in their minds what they had just seen–and not seen.

Later, a distraught Mary Magdalene is back searching for Jesus when He appears to her. How touching that the first person He chooses to appear to is the one whom He had cast seven demons out of. I think Mary Magdalene was clinging to her faith in Jesus despite the circumstances. She  had been set free from such bondage; she above all others had to realize that no earthly power could have performed the miraculous healing that she received.

Now the word starts to spread that Jesus is alive, but Jesus’ disciples don’t believe it until they see Him for themselves. Soon they begin to realize that the plan is much bigger than they ever imagined–a heavenly kingdom, not an earthly reign. And they will be the ones to start spreading the good news.

I love the joy and power of Easter morning. Because of Easter morning we have hope. Hope that we can change. That we can be set free. That we can forgive. That we can love. That we can be forgiven and healed and restored to the relationship with God we were meant to have.

This Easter morning found me on the beach in St. Augustine basking in a beautiful sunrise while the chorus of “Christ the Lord Is Risen Today” wafted down the beach to me from an outdoor service a mile away. It’s easy in this setting to sense the magic of Easter. But what’s important is that this message is for every person in every place, from a beach in Florida to a slum in Calcutta to a prison in China to wherever you are, as you are. Don’t wait until you “get your act together” to come to Jesus, because none of us ever can without His help. That’s what He came for and that’s why He died and that’s why He rose again.

Happy Easter and pray on!

Jane VanOsdol

Jane VanOsdol