What Do I Have to Complain About?

IMG_20151204_162405908_HDR

While visiting the nursing homes, I see many sad circumstances. I usually walk away ashamed of myself for complaining about anything in my life.  So many of these people are happy and content when they have been stripped of most of life’s daily pleasures and left with the bare bones of life.

Sometimes it’s hard to keep your chin up. I’m still grieving the loss of my spouse.  I often feel consumed by this….like it’s going to swallow me up.  I’ll shamefully admit, sometimes I feel cheated that we only had twenty-five years together.  Visiting the nursing home is helping me keep the right perspective.

Most of the people I visit there lost their spouses years ago, but they have also lost many other things that I often take for granted. Many never leave the building. They have lost their freedom to come and go as they please. That’s a biggie.

One sweet lady recently had to sell her car knowing she will never drive again. Even though she is in her late eighties, this was and still is a difficult step for her.  Her home will be the next thing she gives up. In her home are several antiques from her grandparents that hold special memories for her. They will have to go too along with the many little spoons she collected that remind her of the many wonderful vacations she took with her husband who went to be with the Lord about five years ago.

My friend, Mrs. Helen age 78, whom I often visit in the local nursing home, is an amazing person.  She inspires me in how she has made the most of her situation. I want to be like her when I grow up.

Both her husband and son have gone to be with the Lord and  she rarely hears from her other son who lives a good distance away. You would never know it though. She is always happy to see me and is quite outgoing.  She has made a point to learn the names and history of all the residents and workers in the nursing home!

She used to be the pianist in a large church in Atlanta, Georgia.  This lady is very talented, but her fingers do not work as well now due to a stroke some years ago. So she enjoys listening to classical music now.  She also reads large volumes to keep her mind sharp.

Recently, Mrs. Helen’s best friend in the nursing home went to be with the Lord. She has given up several of her friends in this way. She says she doesn’t cry on the outside, but her heart cries on the inside. She is trying to be a strong woman and is putting on a happy face. I can relate to that.

Mrs. Brenda is in her late forty’s and is suffering from a muscle disease. I’m sure she was quite beautiful at one time.  I’ve never seen her out of bed. She can’t walk or eat food.  She has a feeding tube and is very skinny. She sleeps a lot. I’ve never seen anyone visit her. She tells me how nice I look in my regular clothes while she wears a hospital gown. I feel guilty that our lives are so vastly different.  I ask myself, “Why am I  standing by her bed instead of lying in her bed?” Our lots in life could easily be reversed. I immediately know I can take no credit for this. Her current condition was and is completely out of her control.  I flat out do not deserve my tons of blessings.

Mrs. Jo is one of the sweetest ladies you will ever meet.  She cannot enunciate very well so most people smile, nod, and just keep going when she speaks.  She is always smiling and gets so excited when anyone acknowledges her.  It makes me uncomfortable to listen to Mrs. Jo because I’m afraid I won’t be able to understand her and will frustrate her efforts. But I’m learning that when I take time to stop talking and really listen, not only to Mrs. Jo but to others also, I come away much more blessed.

Mrs. Ruby, is another dear soul in the nursing home who spends most of her time in bed.  She is almost blind so unlike Mrs. Helen, she doesn’t have the luxury of passing the lonely hours reading. However, this lady always lights up the room with her bright smile. Could I be so cheery in such a predicament?

When asked, “How are you today?” a dear friend of mine, Marvin Davenport, often says, “I’m upright and breathing so it’s a good day!”  I love that spunky attitude! But what if one day I find myself with one of those being absent? Yes, I’m breathing, but I’m not upright.  I’m bedridden and lonely. What will keep a smile on my face?

How can these unsung heroines in the nursing home be so content with so little?  What makes life worth living when one has had to give up their independence, car, home, spouse, children, parents, career, health, and eye sight?   Maybe they have learned the secret to what life is really all about…a relationship with Jesus!

Jesus makes life worth living!  Period. Why? “The LORD is my rock, and my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my strength, in whom I will trust; my buckler, and the horn of my salvation, and my high tower.” (Psalm 18:2) “Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul.(Hebrews 6:19)

Jesus is the only stable thing in this world.  “Jesus Christ the same yesterday, and today, and for ever.” (Hebrews 13:8)  Jesus and His love never changes or quits or gives up on us.  “The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee.” (Jeremiah 31:3)

Jesus is the One who made us and gives us the next breath and with that breath, a unique purpose for living. And the LORD God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul. (Genesis 2:7)

He has a plan for each day we live. Jesus gives meaning to life when nothing else makes sense.

One of my goals is to be able say with the Apostle Paul, I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. (Philippians 4:11)

I can say with Job, I know that my Redeemer liveth, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God;

So no matter where I find myself in this life, I can live in complete confidence knowing that my God has gone before me and is waiting for me to join Him in heaven.  I can smile because I have a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24) I pray you can say the same. Be blessed.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151227_174544892

 

 

 

Does Anyone Understand? YES!!!

FB_IMG_1449875466508

After David was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer at age 47 in November of 2010, I tried to empathize the best I could as he went through surgery, chemotherapy, and radiation. Our world had turned completely upside down and I was struggling to process this disease and all the ramifications of it.  I was trying to help him in his battle with cancer while feeling like I was waging my own emotional battle.

Then, three years later, I was sitting in the chemo chair after being diagnosed with breast cancer. I was finally able to experience some of those same effects he had been dealing with physically, psychologically, and emotionally.  Now I could better empathize with my husband and the other patients in the treatment room. There is something very special about talking with someone who has been where you are.  A bond is formed when you know they can relate to what you are going through.

This is what Jesus has done for us.  He left heaven and came to  earth to experience the things we live through in this life…love, joy, hope, but also pain, sorrow, rejection, and suffering.  If He had not, I think we would feel disconnected from Him and doubt that He truly understands how we feel.

IMG_20151212_103442899

12-12-15 I had a front row seat at my niece’s recital! (Faith Flippen is in the center.) Watching it on television would not have been nearly as special.

I think about the difference between seeing a game or concert on television verses experiencing it first hand.  There is a huge difference! Yes, God has always and will always know everything about us, but Jesus left heaven to experience and feel what we feel.  What a gift!

Hebrews 4:15 says, “For we have not a high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in ALL points tempted like as we are, yet without sin. Let us therefore come boldly (confidently) unto the throne of grace, that we may obtain mercy, and find grace  to help in time of need.”

He understands what we are going through because He also lived here. You may say, “Well, He certainly has never been rejected by ______________ (fill in the blank).”  Well, I beg to differ.

Matthew 25:40 says, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” 

This passage is talking about when we help others, it is just like helping Jesus.  Wouldn’t it stand to reason that when we hurt others, it is just like hurting Jesus?  And when we are hurt, He is hurt? He feels our pain.

I John 4:20, 21 tells us, “If any man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.”

When people aren’t loving us, they aren’t loving God either. He knows how we feel.  The same people that offend, reject, or hurt us are doing the same thing to God.  We cannot have a good relationship with God in heaven while having bad relationships on earth.

Jesus didn’t have a home for much of His life on earth (Matthew 8:20), yet He is preparing mansions for those who believe in Him (John 14:2).  He felt hunger (Matthew 4:2), yet He called Himself the Bread of Life and said we didn’t have to know spiritual hunger.

In John 6:33-35 Jesus said, “…my Father giveth you the true bread from heaven.  For the bread of God is he which cometh down from heaven, and giveth life unto the world… I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.”

Jesus was referring to us never being spiritually unfulfilled if we put our trust in Him….something much more important that physical food.

He suffered physically. He took the ultimate beating for you and me to pay for our sins.  Isaiah 52:14 says, “As many were astonished at thee; his visage (appearance) was so marred more than any man, and his form more than the sons of men:” He was then crucified for the sins of the world.  “But God commendeth (demonstrated) his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8) Yes, Jesus definitely knew physical pain!

Jesus chose to leave His home in heaven where He had always been worshiped by the angels and given the honor He deserved, to be born here on earth to be “despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief.” (Isaiah 53:3)

In Matthew 23:37 Jesus says, “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, thou that killest the prophets, and stonest them which are sent unto thee, how often would I have gathered thy children together, even as a hen gathereth her chickens under her wings, and you would not!” He knows the pain of rejection.

So knowing all this, we can confidently talk to God about any problem we have and know He relates and can understand what we are going through. Psalm 139  is one of my favorite Bible passages. It describes in detail God’s great love for us.

As Christmas draws near, may we draw close to not only this Saviour of the world, but a friend who sticks closer than a brother. (Proverbs 18:24)

Have yourself a Merry little Christmas!

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151218_114958794

When It Doesn’t Make Sense

100_7000

The Bible intrigues me! So many times God asks people to step out in faith to obey Him when it makes no sense to the human mind. That is what faith is…the substance (realization) of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. (Hebrews 11:1)  When we put aside our doubts, and step out in faith, believing God, He does amazing things!

I Kings 17:8-16 tells how God told His prophet, Elijah to go Zarephath because He had commanded a widow to feed him.  There was a severe famine in the land and God asked this widow to do a very hard thing…to provide lunch for a stranger while she and her son were hungry and her food supply was almost diminished.

When Elijah asks her to use the last of her oil and meal to make him a cake first, the woman responds,

“I have not a cake, but a handful of meal in a barrel, and a little oil in a cruse (pitcher): and, behold, I am gathering two sticks, that I may go in and dress (prepare) it for me and my son, that we may eat it, and die.” Elijah tells her to not be afraid, but to go and make him a little cake first!

Can you believe the audacity of such a request?  I’m sure this mother loved her son. If a stranger told most women this, they would say, “In your dreams Buddy!” And I’m afraid I would have been one of those women in this case!

Elijah assures this widow she will have a  supply of meal and oil until the Lord sends rain.   By faith, she did and as he asked a result,  the LORD kept His promise and she, her son, and Elijah ate many days after that until the Lord sent the rain.

If she hadn’t had the faith to obey, God would not have had the opportunity to reward her faith.

100_6837

In 2 Kings 5:10-14, Naaman, captain of the Syrian army, had leprosy.  God tells His prophet, Elisha to tell him to go dip in the dirty Jordan River seven times.  That made no sense to this captain.  Naaman’s pride got in the way.  First, he was offended that this man of God didn’t even come out and speak to him face to face, but sent his servant to give the solution to his disease.

Then, he couldn’t understand why his cleaner river back home wouldn’t be the better option. Naaman was trusting in the water to heal him and not in the God who made the water. Naaman was ready to leave, when his servants begged him to give it a try.

Because Naaman obeyed, although unwillingly, God honored His word and healed the captain.  What if Naaman had walked away without obeying?  He would not have been healed.  How many times do I walk away because God’s word doesn’t make sense to me?

Here’s another one. Jesus said in Luke 6:38

“Give, and it shall be given unto you; good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom.  For with the same measure that ye mete (use) withal it shall be measured to you again.”

How can we give and end up with more than we gave?  It does not make sense. This is one of the glorious characteristics about God! This is what makes Him so awesome! This is what makes Him God and not me!

God works miracles when we exhibit faith.  This goes against every grain in our earthly, sinful body.  We think we are smart and can figure things out for ourselves. Blessed is every man, woman, and child who realizes they cannot figure this life out without the help of Almighty God! “With men it is impossible, but not with God:  for with God all things are possible.” (Mark 10 27)

“But without faith it is impossible to please Him: for he that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder to them that diligently seek Him.” (Hebrews 11:6)

100_6845

In Matthew 10:38-39 Jesus said,

“And he that taketh not his cross, and followeth after me, is not worthy of me. He that findeth his life shall lose it:  and he that loseth his life for my sake shall find it.”

To me, these verses mean we must each lay down our hopes and dreams and be willing to trust God with our future. When we do, a lot of times are hopes and dreams do come true.  God knows us better than we know ourselves and He wants the very best for us. We may think we know what we want, but we really don’t.

God knows the end from the beginning.  We don’t have to fret and worry and try to figure things out and make things happen.  Jesus is asking us to let Him carry our burdens in this life, to trust Him, to rest in Him, and to wait on Him.

When we take our eyes off ourselves and give to God and others, we are dying to ourselves to gain true life. This song pretty much sums up what I’ve been trying to say. May this be the prayer of our heart.

100_6835

Instrument of Peace

Where there is hatred, let me bring love
Where there is doubt, let me bring faith
Where there is falsehood, let me bring truth
Where there is pain, I’ll comfort you
Where there is silence, let me sing praise
Where there’s despair, let me bring hope
Where there is blindness, let me bring sight
Where there is darkness, let me bring light
And with these words I speak
Grant that I may not seek
To be heard but to hear
To be consoled but to console,
Not to be seen, but to see
To be loved but to love
For when we give love we will receive
When we forgive love, we’ll find reprieve
It is in dying we’ll be released
Make me an instrument of peace

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151129_155225584

Why Did Jesus Come?

IMG_20151207_102427650

Christmas has always been my favorite time of the year.  I like everything about it…the songs, giving, family get-togethers, yummy food, lights, colorful decorations, special programs, and that Jesus is at the center of it all.

But this year is different.  I am separated from my best friend who has celebrated every Christmas with me for more than half of my life. My husband, David, will be present at Jesus’ birthday party in heaven this year. I’m jealous. I’m sure it will be a grand celebration.

IMG_20151207_191350900

Abigail and her “dear”

A few months ago I wished I could just hit a fast forward button and skip this Christmas. The separation is particularly difficult at this time. It seems too painful to try to get through it. But once again I realized this is not about me or how I’m feeling. Christmas is about celebrating Jesus’ birth on earth.

I would do almost anything to end this painful separation from David. Yet, God the Father and Jesus chose to be separated from each other because of their great love for mankind…for YOU and for ME! They had always been together.  They had never been apart.  Yet they volunteered….they signed up!…they made a deliberate choice to be separated for a time so sinless Jesus could pay for the sins of the whole world so we could be together forever.  That level of love blows my mind.

IMG_20151208_072619338 I didn’t want to celebrate Christmas because I thought it would be too sad while that is the whole reason why there even is a Christmas! Jesus said, “…I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.”  (John 10:10)

In Luke 2:79 Zechariah said the Messiah (Jesus) has come “to give light to them that sit in darkness and in the shadow of death, to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

Isaiah 61:1-3 lists several more reasons why Jesus came…

  • to preach good tiding to the meek (poor)
  • to bind up (heal) the brokenhearted
  • to proclaim liberty to the captives
  •  to open the prison to them that are bound
  • to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord
  • to proclaim the day of vengeance of God
  • to comfort all that mourn
  • to console them that mourn in Zion
  • to give those who mourn beauty for ashes
  • to give the oil of joy for mourning
  • to give the garment of praise for the spirit of heaviness

Did you notice how Jesus came to give relief from emotional suffering? God’s Word gives such comfort and hope!

Verse 3 explains the result,

“….that they might be called the trees of righteousness, the planting of the LORD, that He might be glorified.” Those who mourn and are comforted by God have the opportunity to glorify God!

IMG_20151207_191519756

Do you know this Jesus? If you do not, you can.  Jesus came to help us, but we must yield to Him as Master and Lord of our life. Ask Him to forgive you for your wrong doing, stubbornness, and pride. Ask Him to come to dwell inside your heart so you can have a peace that passes all understanding and be able to go live with Him when your days here are no more.

 

Without Jesus there are no Merry Christmases.  But with Jesus we have life, hope, peace, joy and love for all eternity.  May your days be merry and bright!

Keep looking up!

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151207_123010054

 

What Are You Afraid of?

IMG_20150521_194427252_HDR

If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall move mountains. (Matthew 17:20)

What worries you? What comes to mind when you wake up in the middle of the night? I know I’m worrying when I realize I’m biting my fingernails. Yeah, it’s a nasty habit…one I’ve struggled with all my life.  I’ll have pretty nails for awhile, then a problem arises and by default my nails are destroyed.

Another thing I realize when I see my nails in a pile is that I’m not trusting God.  Worry and fear are diametrically opposed to faith and trust in God.  There are lots of things that can make us fearful. We may be worry….

  • if we’re providing our children with the proper tools to succeed in life
  • if our money is going to outlive us
  • if our job is secure
  • if our relationships are strong enough to endure the trials life throws at us
  • if our health is good
  • if we are fulfilling God’s purposes in our life

And on and on it goes. But one thing is for sure…God does not want us to worry. He tells us in 1 Peter 5:7 to cast all our cares upon Him because He cares for us. That “cares” not only means He loves us supremely, but He is capable of taking “care” of our problems! “But my God shall supply all you need according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 4:19) That’s a promise!

In II Chronicles 17-20, King Jehoshaphat gives us a beautiful example of what to do when the worry warts start surfacing.  This king of Judah was in the habit of seeking God and keeping His commandments. But King Jehoshaphat became fearful because a great multitude was coming against him.

This reminds me of the many foreboding days that my husband and I faced with his  cancer battle.  We were always wondering if the chemo was still keeping the cancer at bay.  All those times we entered the doctor’s office to get the test results, I wondered if this would be the day our world would fall apart… again.  When would the chemo stop working?  After all, the doctor was confident that day would eventually come.  I often felt like Eeyore in the Winnie the Pooh cartoon walking around with a cloud over our heads wondering when the bottom was going to drop out.

DSC09020

David Hughes May 12, 2014

I still have some of those days. There has been no sign of cancer in my body for almost a year and a half. The doctor says the more time that passes without the cancer returning, increases the chances that it won’t. My check ups roll around every three months and I wonder. I know worrying will not help nor will it prevent recurrence, but it takes discipline to not worry and trust God.

King Jehoshaphat’s life and his kingdom was at stake here.  We can understand his fear.  What was his response?

He fasted and prayed, “O LORD God of our father, art not thou God in heaven? and rulest not thou over all kingdoms of the heathen? and in thine hand is there not power and might, so that none is able to withstand thee?  Art not thou our God…? (II Chron. 20:6, 7)

Jehoshaphat told God, “…neither know we what to do: but our eyes are upon thee.” Isn’t that a wonderful confession and declaration? I love this! And evidently, God did too.  Listen to God’s response to this.

“Be not afraid nor dismayed by reason of this great multitude; for the battle is not yours, but God’s. (vs. 15) Ye shall not need to fight in this battle:  set (position) yourselves, stand ye still, and see the salvation of the LORD with you, O Judah and Jerusalem:  fear not, nor be dismayed; tomorrow go out against them:  for the LORD will be with you.” (vs. 17)

Then Jehoshaphat and all of Judah bowed their heads with their face to the ground and fell before the LORD and worshipped Him. Others stood and loudly praised God. (vs. 18) Then….. night came.  Do you ever pray at the end of a long day, sleep peacefully for a few hours, and then wake up and start worrying again?  Time has a way of making us doubt even the surest of promises.

As the people rose early in the morning and entered the wilderness, a place that could have been lonely and scary, Jehoshaphat encourages them by saying, “Hear me, O Judah, …Believe in the LORD your God, so shall ye be established; believe his prophets, so shall ye prosper.” (vs. 20)

Then King Jehoshaphat did something quite amazing.  Instead of sneaking up on the enemy, he appointed singers that they should sing unto the Lord and praise the beauty of holiness as they marched toward the enemy! (vs. 21).

“When they began to sing and to praise… the LORD set ambushments” against their enemies and they died. (vs. 22) God fought the battle for them!  I believe He wants to do the same for us today.

There are some important lessons we can learn from this godly king.

  1. He knew where to go for help.

Though godly friends can often give good advice and help us, it is ONLY God who can really help us.  He should always be the first place we look for answers and to make us feel better….not friends, food, shopping, or a bottle.

2.  He knew how to go for help.

Jehoshaphat was serious about his faith and obedience to God. He had already taken away the pagan idol worshipping. He walked with God and kept His commandments.  So when his trouble came, he already had a good relationship with God. Thankfully, God will take us anytime and in any sorry condition we find ourselves.  He is waiting with open arms to forgive us and help us when we ask, but I hope we don’t wait until we’re desperate to have a relationship with Him and ask for His help. We need Him everyday.

3. He knew how to respond to help.

Jehoshaphat acted on God’s promise in spite of his feelings. He trusted that God would keep His word and fight his battle for him when he saw no physical evidence of it.  Now that’s faith!  He appointed singers to go before the army and praise God as if the battle was already won. Then when God defeated the army, he did not fail to give God thanks.  Later, everyone assembled together and blessed the LORD. (vs. 26)

As a result, the fear of God was on all the kingdoms of the surrounding countries. (vs. 29)  God was glorified through the victory and praise. So many times God sent angels or He spoke to people Himself and told them to not be afraid.  He says the same thing to us today. “There is no panic in heaven, only plans,” Corrie Ten Boom once said.  May our faith overcome our fears.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151119_153911847

Abigail and Gaye Hughes

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Rose Bush and Root of Bitterness

100_1593

It was such a pretty sunny day, so I went out to work in my flowerbeds.  A rose bush had recently died so I began to dig it up. It had been there a long time so the roots were large and ran deep into the ground.  It took about forty-five minutes before I got the last root out.

For any of you who might be thinking too highly of me, this post will reveal my wicked heart.  I’m pulling back the curtain on this one.  I may even lose some friends, but my purpose in these posts is to share what God is teaching me and to help  encourage others in their walk with God.  Sin keeps us from having a close relationship with our Saviour. If the exposure of my sin in this post helps even one person draw closer to God, then my mission is accomplished.

100_2670

I stand amazed at how God gently leads me along.  The next day after uprooting that stubborn rose bush root,  I listened to a sermon by Adrian Rogers about the root of bitterness. God had prepared my heart to hear what I needed to take the next step toward Him.  I would like to share with you some of the points Adrian Rogers made. This man was such a gifted speaker and as he explained the Scriptures, the Holy Spirit convicted me of the sin of bitterness. This sin is easy to deny and justify.

Bitterness begins with a hurt, that is the seed.  Instead of forgiveness being applied right away, that hurt is harbored in the heart. The heart represents the soil. When the hurt is mulled over and thought about, wrath is born. The Webster’s Dictionary defines wrath as, retributory punishment for an offense. A bitter person wants to see justice done now.

100_0310

Next, Anger is expressed. It may come in the form of sarcasm or it may not be  as obvious and display itself in a cool, aloof manner.  There is tension in the relationship. It may feel like an invisible wall is blocking honesty and freedom in the relationship. Anger easily arises around the person we are bitter against. I avoided this person when I could.

Clamor usually shows up eventually. This is when the feelings from the heart start emerging from the mouth.  Loudly insistent is one way of putting it. Usually the tone and volume changes when we talk to the person that has hurt us.

Ephesians 4: 29 says, Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.

Evil Speaking is the fruit of a bad root of bitterness. I noticed I talked negatively about this person a lot.

100_2210

Ephesians 4:30 goes on to say, And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking , be put away from you, with all malice: 

I think God warns us about bitterness about we can easily be bitter and not realize it. The root is unseen.  But when some of the fruit that has been listed above starts ripening and emerging, we need to dig that root out quickly! Now that I think about it,  I think I have harbored bitterness for years.

Peace and holiness are linked together.  We can’t be holy and our relationship with God be all it should be while having bad relationships with others. Our love for God  can be measured by the level of love we are showing to others.

Hebrews 12:15 says, Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no men (or women) shall see the Lord:  Looking diligently lest any man fail (fall short) of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled;

Application:  We need to…

  • strive for peace with others
  • strive for holiness so we will see God
  • Be diligent to receive God’s grace

SO… bitterness will not spring up and trouble us AND defile many others.

As I was digging the rose bush root up, there was a lot of Bermuda grass.  A sprig of this grass will root easily thereby, making it almost impossible to keep out of my flowerbeds.  I think bitterness is the same way. If I’m not careful, even when I think I’ve gotten rid of the last of my bitterness, at the next offense from this person, it could easily spring back up. God says to diligently look for it!

Did you notice my bitterness doesn’t just affect me. It contaminates those I’m around.  When I’m talking bad about that person to others, I’m lowering their view of that person I’m talking about and may cause them to be critical or bitter too. My children have asked me, “Mommy, why do you always assume the worst of_____________?”

100_2219

Visiting New York City May, 4, 2008

Now, let’s look at the SOLUTION for digging that root of bitterness out!

1- Let God reveal it to you.

As I listened to this sermon, a certain face and name appeared in my mind.  The Holy Spirit showed me my bitterness toward this person. We can’t see our sin without God’s help. God surely showed me the strong root of bitterness growing in my heart.

2-Let God’s grace remove it.

It takes 2 to forgive…God and me.  I can’t forgive on my own.  I have to have God’s help. It is only by God’s grace that I even have the desire to change and I need His grace of forgiveness for my sin of bitterness. When God forgives me, then I am able to forgive the one who has offended me.  We are on the same hook with our offender. Only when we let them go,  are we made free.  With tears, I begged God to forgive me and take away all the roots of bitterness that had been secretly flourishing in my heart.  Then, like a spring rain, my heart felt cleansed and new again.

3- Let good replace the bitterness.

After God reveals our root of bitterness and we confess it and ask for His forgiveness, He removes it and that allows us to extend grace and forgiveness to our offender.

After suffering in a prison camp, Corrie ten Boom found herself in front of the man who had been her worst offender during the war.  He had become a Christian and was asking for her forgiveness.  She later said, “The will can function regardless of the temperature of the heart.”  So against her will she woodenly reached out to shake his hand.  As she did, she miraculously felt God’s peace flow over her whole body.

We can extend grace and forgiveness regardless of how we are feeling, but through the obedience to His word, He will give us freedom to love others as He has loved us.

100_2663barn

A beautiful Tennessee day in May 2008

So there’s my ugly. I hope this has been a help to you. Please feel free to share this with others. Psalm 139:23, 24 are such good verses.  They are a prayer from David, the shepherd boy who was a man after God’s own heart.

Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts:  And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.

Keep looking up,

Gaye Hughes

IMG_20151129_155225584

11-29-2015