Tag Archives: bitter

Jehovah Rapha

It was in the desert that God first made the promise to be our healer. The Israelites had left Egypt, crossed the Red Sea and had traveled three days. No matter where they looked, they couldn’t find water. The people started complaining to Moses about it. Then suddenly, there it was. A body of water was before them in the town of Marah. They went to drink it, but it was bitter. After praying, God directed Moses to a piece of wood and told him to put it in the water. When he threw it in, the water became sweet. At that moment, God spoke in Exodus 15:26 and said, “If you will listen carefully to the voice of The Lord your God and do what is right in His sight, obeying His commands and keeping all His decrees, then I will not make you suffer any of the diseases I sent on the Egyptians; for I am The Lord who heals you (Jehovah Rapha).”

How fitting that they were in the desert when He made that promise. When we are in need of healing, we often feel like we’re in a desert. We feel alone. There seems to be no life. No hope. No place to get what we need to sustain life. The outlook is often dim. That’s usually where we need to be for us to fully trust God. It’s when we’ve reached the end of our strength, that we learn to trust His ability. Remember, it’s through our weakness that He is made strong. We must go to Him in prayer seeking the healing we need.

I’m not here to tell you that every time I’ve prayed for healing for someone that they’ve received it. In fact, I’ve lost loved ones whom I prayed and believed for God to heal. Does that change who God is or His ability to heal? Absolutely not. I can choose to let something like that poison the water of my soul and make me bitter like the waters of Marah or I can choose to let God put the wood of the cross in my soul and bring healing to me to remove the bitterness. Through the cross, Jesus is able to bring both physical and spiritual healing. It was by His stripes, given at the cross, that we are healed physically, and by His death that we are healed spiritually. His offer to you is to allow Him to apply that wood to your life how He sees fit. He will be your Jehovah Rapha.

Photo by Jussara Romão on Unsplash

Throwback Thursday is a feature I’m using to help build some margin into my schedule to pursue other writing ventures. Each Thursday I’ll be bringing you a previously written devotional that still speaks encouragement to us from God’s Word.

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A Painful Promise

I’ve always wanted to know more about the two criminals that were crucified on either side of Jesus. The Bible introduces us to them, we hear briefly from them and then they’re gone. In Luke 23:39 we hear one say, “So you’re the Messiah, are you? Prove it by saving yourself—and us, too, while you’re at it!” Then the other one says, “Don’t you fear God even when you have been sentenced to die? We deserve to die for our crimes, but this man hasn’t done anything wrong.” Then he said, “Jesus, remember me when you come into your Kingdom” (NLT).

Both of these men are in agony as well. They have nails in their hands and feet, and they are suspended above the crowd. You can hear the bitterness in the first man’s words. He’s facing certain death, and he’s angry instead of being repentant for the wrongs he’s done. The other man understands that he’s being given what he deserves, yet it leads him to seek forgiveness. Jesus responds to him, “I assure you, today you will be with me in paradise.” I think it’s incredible that when we are in pain, it either makes us bitter or drives us closer to God.

There’s not one of us who won’t have to deal with pain or consequences in our lives. The pain may be physical or emotional, but we are all going to experience it. When we are experiencing it, we can choose to let it make us bitter or better. God uses pain to get our attention because sometimes that’s the only way we will listen. He will do whatever it takes to get our attention to keep us from spending eternity without Him. He sent His only Son to die on the cross to show us He loves us. He forgave the criminal beside Him who had committed a crime worthy of death. He can forgive you too. If you’re in pain today, don’t let it push you away from God. Let it make you more dependent on Him than ever.

Photo by eberhard grossgasteiger on Unsplash

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How To Keep Bitterness Away


I’ve combed through the book of Jeremiah looking for things to learn and grow from. What I found was a man who obeyed God, said what he was supposed to say, and was rejected because of it. He was beaten, thrown into a public prison, dumped into a cistern to die, dragged off against his will, and called a liar when people didn’t like the messages God gave him. Before he even gave the messages, he knew that the people were going to reject the messages. He even tried to keep quiet at one point, but he said the word of God felt like a fire trapped in his bones until he spoke it.

I can only imagine what he felt. In Lamentations 3:16-19, he described some of it for us. He wrote, “He has made me chew on gravel. He has rolled me in the dust. Peace has been stripped away, and I have forgotten what prosperity is. I cry out, ‘My splendor is gone! Everything I had hoped for from the LORD is lost!’ The thought of my suffering and homelessness is bitter beyond words. I will never forget this awful time, as I grieve over my loss” (NLT). Powerful words describing a bitter time.

Even though this period of life was bitter for him, he didn’t become bitter. For me, that’s been one of my goals in life. When times get tough and all hope is lost, find a way to not get bitter through the process. When we have to endure bitter times in our lives, we have a choice. We can dwell on our losses, our disappointments, our failures, and our suffering or we can choose to dwell on God’s faithfulness through it all. One choice will make you as bitter as your circumstances and one will give you strength to endure.

Jeremiah chose the latter. In Lamentations 3:21-23 he wrote, “Yet I still dare to hope when I remember this: The faithful love of the LORD never ends! His mercies never cease. Great is his faithfulness; his mercies begin afresh each morning.” No matter what you’re having to go through, God has been faithful to you and He loves you. Concentrate on who He is and what He’s done for you throughout your life instead of your present situation. A smooth life isn’t guaranteed to any of us, but the love and faithfulness of the Lord is.

Sing this hymn to yourself today to help you remember:

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Great is Thy faithfulness! 

Morning by morning new mercies I see. 

All I have needed Thy hand hath provided,

Great is Thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

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Esau’s Hidden Blessing

Genesis 27 contains a story many of us are familiar with. It’s where Jacob steals Esau’s blessing. I remember hearing this story as a child and wondering why Isaac couldn’t give Esau a blessing too. To tell the truth, I still don’t understand why he couldn’t do something. In verse 38, Esau pleaded, “But do you have only one blessing? Oh my father, bless me too!” Isaac began to tell him what all he had given to his brother. I’m sure each blessing was a dagger to the heart since they were meant for him.

Isaac then spoke the opposite of the blessing of Jacob to Esau. He told him that he would live far away from the riches of the earth and away from Heaven’s dew. He told him he would live by the sword and would serve his brother. The way he ended it was curious to me though. He said, “But when you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” To me, that was a blessing hidden in there. He would only serve his brother until he decided not to. I think that his anger was so blinding that he missed it though.

Instead of breaking free, he allowed anger to rule his life and his decisions. He started doing the opposite of what he had been taught. In fact, he went out and married a woman from Canaan because he knew his father didn’t like them. When we are hurt by someone, all we want to do is hurt them back. We say things and do things that we think will stick it to them the way they stuck it to us. Esau was no exception. He decided to let anger rule his decision making and ultimately his way of life.

When we live like that, we are letting the other person rule us. We quit making decisions based on our good and instead make them on what we think will do the most harm. We quit trying to find ways to help ourselves advance and only find ways to make them retreat. We put ourselves in a prison, lock the doors and throw away the keys. I understand that even less than why Isaac couldn’t bless Esau too. I’ve been angry and hurt enough to want to act that way, but not to the point where it controlled every decision for a long period of time. I didn’t want to give anyone that kind of power over me.

If you’re in that position now, the blessing given to Esau is a blessing for you. “When you decide to break free, you will shake his yoke from your neck.” The choice is yours to let it go. Quit wondering if they ever regret doing that to you. Quit wishing their life was horrible. Stop getting excited when you hear about bad things that happen to them. Those thoughts keep you locked in prison. Decide to let it go. I know that easier said than done. I’ve had to do it myself. The only way you break free from that life is to let go. When you do, the yoke will fall off and your life will begin to have a greater purpose. Your life will flourish again.

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Chopping Roots

My uncle and I built a swing set for my son last week. After building it, we decided to put up a fall zone perimeter around it and fill it with wood chips to protect him. We measured and then placed the boards around the swing set. As we were screwing them together, one of the boards wouldn’t square up right. The ground was raised up and kept the board from being level. I grabbed a shovel and started to dig. It wasn’t long before I hit some roots.

I took the shovel, placed it against the roots and jumped on it to break the roots. Sometimes that worked and other times the shovel didn’t move. As I broke some roots, I had to grab the ends of them and pull until they came all the way up or until the were far enough away that I could chop them and get no future trouble from them. As I looked back at the area where they were, it was now soft soil and I could easily pull the dirt back and place the board on level ground.

I started to think about my life after that. When I try to line things up, they don’t always come together the way I think they should. No matter how hard I try, it just doesn’t work. There are roots below the surface that affect things in each of our lives. We may not always see them, but they’re there. They create uneven surfaces in our lives and have a way of messing things up from time to time.

A scripture that always comes to mind when I think about roots is Hebrews 12:15. It says, “Watch out that no poisonous root of bitterness grows up to trouble you.” We’re all susceptible to these roots because life isn’t perfect. Things happen that we can’t control and we allow roots to grow in our lives beneath the surface. They get nourishment from the feelings we keep hidden. They grow until we deal with them and cut them out.

Some roots cut easily because they are young. Other roots will take a lot of strength and effort to remove from our lives because they’ve been there so long and haven’t been dealt with. It’s important that we recognize when roots are trying to take hold in and then prevent them. Hebrews said we need to watch out so that the root doesn’t grow. Understanding and knowing what situations cause roots like this to grow is the first step in preventing their growth.

You have to mentally determine not to let them grow up in you. If you are susceptible to them growing in trials, be on your hard during those times. If you are susceptible to them when someone dies, make a determination not to be angry or bitter. Whatever the case may be for you, it’s important that you do what you can to prevent them. In my trials, I consciously pray, “God, please don’t let a root of bitterness spring up in me so that this situation affects me in the future.”

What roots do you have in your life that you need to put the shovel to? Dealing with it now is better than later. You need to kill it at its source so that it will not continue to grow and affect your life negatively. You need to dig it up, pull it out and chop it off. Afterwards, you’ll notice that the soil in your life is a lot softer, more even and able to have something better planted in its place.

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Moving Day

Today is the first day in a new office. There’s first day jitters like I experienced as a kid on the first day of school. All the familiar faces will be here, but it will be in a new environment. Boxes will need to be unpacked. Desks will need to be arranged. You’ll have to find out where everyone sits so you can find them when you need them. There’s a sense of excitement and nervousness at the same time. I can’t wait to go see the new place.

I wonder if that’s what Heaven will be like. It’s the familiar faces we’ve known just in an unfamiliar setting. We’ll get acquainted with how the streets of gold are layer out. Find our bearings around the sea of glass. Walk in awe through the pearly gates as we wonder in amazement at a place that was designed just for us. There’s a home there built with us in mind. Designed specifically to our standards. I can’t wait to go see it.

Jesus said in John 14 that He is preparing a place for us. In verse three, He says, “When everything’s ready, I will come and get you, so that you will always be with me.” Just like at work where we’ve been anticipating this move, we need to be anticipating His return. We don’t know when He’ll come for us or when our life will be over and we go there. The important thing is to be ready at any given moment.

You don’t realize how much stuff you’re holding on to until it’s time to move. I threw away so much stuff last week because I realized I really didn’t need it. I started thinking about how much stuff in my own life that I’ve been holding onto that I need to release. Things like forgiveness for those who’ve wronged me, grudges against others who’ve made me angry, resentment for not being dealt a hand as good as others in life and so many other things we pack into our lives and hold onto.

When we hold onto those things, our hands aren’t free to receive all that God has for us. God has great things in store for each of us, but so many times we haven’t freed ourselves of the things that so easily weigh us down. We haven’t given them over to God and we end up putting ourselves into a yoke of bondage. God’s desire is that we live free of any yokes, especially those that are self imposed.

If you were moving to Heaven today, what would you need to pack and what would you need to throw away in your own life? What have you been holding onto that you don’t need? Why hold onto it any more? Free yourself today from those things that weigh you down. You will find freedom when you release them. God has already offered us freedom. He’s just waiting for us to take off the unnecessary weights and things that hold us down. Walk in freedom today!

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