A bitter person . . .

  1. Finds it impossible to speak peaceably with others in their family.
  2. Speaks with barbed and cutting words, hurting others deeply.
  3. Uses language characterized by hostility and suspicion.
  4. Criticizes what others say or do.
  5. Disrespects others and is unthankful.
  6. Rehearses the past over and over again.
  7. Twists the motives and intentions of others when they try to come alongside to help.
  8. Resist change or help.
  9. Strives to keep past injuries fresh as though they happened yesterday.
  10. Exhibits indifference and numbness toward the hurts they inflict on others.

From Jim Velez – Feelings Unlimited

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A Greater Knowledge of God

This is from My Utmost for His Highest, by Oswald Chambers.

“If we will obey what God says according to our sincere belief:

  1. God will break us from those traditions that misrepresent Him.
  2. If we keep true to God, God will take us through an ordeal which will bring us out into a better knowledge of Himself.
  3. If we will remain true to God, God will lead us straight through every barrier into the inner chamber of the knowledge of Himself; but there is always the point of giving up convictions and traditional beliefs.”

Talking about Abraham, “He remained true to God and God purified his faith.”

I found this concept that Chambers is expounding; “giving up convictions and traditional beliefs  necessary to break through the barrier into the inner chamber of knowing God and achieving purified faith” so true in my own life.  Before I moved into ‘deeper knowledge and relationship with God’ I had to lay aside (reject) everything I had been taught about God and what was required for relationship with Him and thoughtfully and prayerfully put back in only what I could accept as from Him. The result was the beginning of a wonderful love relationship with God!

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Personal Spiritual Inventory Questions

  1. When was the last time God showed me something wrong in my life, and I took immediate and painful action to correct the error?
  2. When was the last time I asked God to show me how He could us something unique about me?
  3. When was the last time I made a plan to obey God in some special area of my life and then followed through?
  4. When was the last time my life was an example to others of obedience to God?

The enemies we face are most often within ourselves.  The battles we fight are not against others but against the power of sin. We need God’s help to battle against sin.  His help is the cause of each success, and his forgiveness is sufficient for each failure.

From Bible Notes


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Using ‘Fleeces’ for God’s Guidance

I have thought for a long time that ‘laying out fleeces’ was not the prime way to know God’s guidance.  This was verified in the ‘Bible notes’ from the story of Gideon.  We can live close enough to God to know His voice and understand His direction without demanding signs.

Fear often makes us wait for more confirmation when we should be taking action.  The greatest means of God’s guidance is His Word, the Bible.  If you want to have more of God’s guidance, don’t ask for signs, study His Word and develop a close relationship with Him.

“Putting out fleeces is a poor decision-making method.  Those who do this put limitations on God.  The results of such experiments are usually inconclusive and thus fail to make us any more confident about our choices.  Don’t let a ‘fleece’ become substitute for God’s wisdom that comes through Bible study and prayer.”

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Two Lessons from Children of Israel

The book of Judges said that God left the enemy nations in Israel unconquered as a test for the third generation of Israelites.  The first generation failed to trust God to give them the Promised Land.  They died in the wilderness.  The second generation failed to complete the task of conquering the land.  They died defeated.  The third generation did not even remember the mighty things God had done for Israel.  It was their job to complete the conquest of the land.  How they would handle these obstacles was a test of their faith.  Each generation had failed to teach the next generation to love and follow God.

Two important lessons come from this history:

  1. We must teach our children the acts as well as the ways of God.  Children learn so much by our example.  It is our job to pass the faith to the next generation.
  2. Perhaps God has left obstacles in our lives – hostile people, difficult situations, baffling problems – to help us develop faith and obedience.

We are all faced with these lessons.  How are we going to respond to them?  We cannot fail, the stakes are too high!!

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The Prayer of Relinquishment

By Catherine Marshall, from 1960 issue of Guideposts

 Why are some agonizingly sincere prayers granted while others are not?  Mysteries about prayer are always ahead of present knowledge – luring, beckoning on to further experimentation.  It’s a way of prayer that has resulted consistently in a glorious answer, glorious because each time, power beyond human reckoning has been released.  This is the Prayer of Relinquishment.

Catherine tells this story of a missionary who had been an invalid for eight years.  Constantly she had prayed that God would make her well.  Finally, worn out with futile petition, she prayed, All right.  I give up.  If you want me to be an invalid, that’s your business.  Anyway, I want you even more than I want health.  You decide.  In two weeks she was out of bed, completely well.

The lesson I learned was that a demanding spirit, with self-will as its rudder, blocks prayer.  God absolutely refuses to violate our free will; therefore, unless self-will is voluntarily given up, even God cannot move to answered prayer.

The Prayer of Relinquishment says, “This is my situation at the moment.  I’ll face the reality of it.  But I’ll also accept willingly whatever a loving Father sends.”  Acceptance, therefore, never slams the door on hope.  Giving up of self-will is the hardest thing we human beings are ever called on to do.

Sometimes the Prayer of Relinquishment requires us give up something or someone we really want.  Our pliability must be complete, from our wills right on through to our actions.

At the heart of the secret of answered prayer lies the Law of Relinquishment.

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Challenges Regarding the Prayer of Faith

Three great challenges regarding the prayer of FAITH:

  1. We must believe that no situation is beyond the scope of prayer.  Keeping our eyes on the problem makes it grow bigger.  The problem seems:

Too big

Too hard

Too complex

2. We fail to lean on the promises of God.  We:

Become weary


Live in fear and depression

Ask others for advise when we need to go to the Lord in prayer.

  1. Waiting for God to answer

When God doesn’t answer we begin questioning.   The problem may have gotten worse.  Instead of waiting in faith we become spiritually fatigued as we pray.

After we pray, or step out in obedience, things may get worse before they get better.  Often standing on God’s promises involves more than we bargained for.  We need to cling to the Word of God despite the negative circumstances we see around us.

Why do we go through these negative times?  This is a purging process.  Hold on to what God said even through it looks useless and hopeless.  The testing of what God has told you will always result in God fulfilling it.

From: Break Through Prayer by Jim Cymbala

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How Suffering Affects Us

Suffering is helpful when:

We turn to God for understanding, endurance, and deliverance.

We ask important questions we might not take time to think about in our normal routine.

We are prepared by it to identify with, and comfort others who suffer.

We are open to being helped by others who are obeying God.

We are ready to learn from a trustworthy God.

We realize we can identify with what Christ suffered on the cross for us.

We are sensitized to the amount of suffering in the world.

Suffering is harmful when:

We become hardened and reject God.

We refuse to ask any questions and miss any lessons that might be good for us.

We allow it to make us self-centered and selfish.

We withdraw from the help others can give.

We reject the fact that God can bring good out of calamity.

We accuse God of being unjust and perhaps lead others to reject Him.

We refuse to be open to any changes in our lives.

From Bible Notes on Job.

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Vision – Face and Figure of Jesus

Sadhu Sundar Singh, of the early 20th century, has been called the St. Paul of India.  His mother died when he was just a teenager and her death steeped him in overwhelming grief.  In his despair, he planned his own death.  After three days in silence, he exclaimed, “Oh God, if there be a God, reveal yourself to me tonight.”  Fifteen minutes before he was leaving to carry out his plan, ‘a bright cloud of light suddenly filled his room and out of the brightness came the face and figure of Jesus.’  As a result of this vision, Sundar’s life was dramatically and irrevocably changed and he had one of the most remarkable ministries of the early 1900s.

He traveled from village to village proclaiming the good news of life in Jesus Christ.  Like his Master, he had no home, no possessions.  He belonged to the road, sharing the suffering of his people, eating with those who gave him shelter, and telling all who would listen of the love of God.  Even his death is a story shrouded in mystery and adventure.  More than once he had sought to bring the gospel message into the mountains of Tibet, with each attempt ending in failure.  In April 1929, Sadhu Sundar Singh was seen on a high mountain trail that leads into Tibet.  He has never been heard from or seen since.

When I read of the vision, ‘a bright cloud of light suddenly filled his room and out of the brightness came the face and figure of Jesus’, I asked the Lord to do this for four young men for whom I pray repeatedly.   Perhaps you should ask God to give a revelation of Himself to those for whom you are interceding.

Biographical information from Devotional Classics

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Focusing on the Presence of God

Madame Jeanne Guyon, of the 1600’s, married at age 15 to an invalid who was 38 years old.  Unhappy in her marriage, she sought happiness in her devotional life.  She also spent 25 years in confinement for her faith.  Her writings help urge us to focus on the Presence of God.

Here’s a couple of her suggestions that I have been practicing.

1.  Pray the scriptures. (a 15 minute exercise):

  1. Choose a simple passage  b. Read it slowly  c. Try to sense the heart of each verse  d. When something is meaningful , turn it into a prayer.  ( I used Proverbs 8)
  2. The other exercise is ‘behold the Lord’.  a. Select a passage  (I have been working through the Psalms of Ascent – 120 to 134, doing two a day.)  b. Reread the words until you can focus on God’s presence.  c. Keep your heart and mind focused on the presence of God.  d. When your mind wanders come back to the Bible passage to help you refocus.

I have been journaling while doing these, writing my personal insights.  Journaling helps me focus as this is not easy for me.

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