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Uprooting the Root of Bitterness and Resentment

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Messianic minister Marvin Pressman teaches on the destructive force of resentment and bitterness and how to be free from it's effects.
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  • All Rights ReservedCopyright 2008 by Marvin Pressman

    No part of this book may be reproduced or transmittedin any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical,

    including photocopying, or by any informationstorage and retrieval system without the permission

    in writing by the author.

    Cover and Layout by Jerry Wall

    Printed in the United States of America

    First Printing

    For more information or to order additional books, please contact:

    Marvin the Pressman Inc3999 Simms St

    Hollywood, Florida 33021USA

    954 985 9498

    2

  • Acknowledgements

    I want to thank the Lord for creating this book. It is my prayer that He will use it to draw people closer to Him and that He will cause many to take heed to its message.

    I want to thank Ruth Pirrie for editing and proofreading this book. I want to thank all my friends who have read my drafts and for your input.

    I want to thank Jerry Wall for the layout, design and artwork. I greatly appreciate your endless patience with all the revisions. You are a valued friend, great brother and a gifted teacher! I cherish your friendship!

    Dedication

    This book is dedicated to my wife Joan who is my hero, companion and friend. I have always admired your strength and courage. You have always been my joy and delight! I love you with all my heart! I loved you from the time I met you. I dont think I have ever seen such faith in anyone. Your faith and strength in Messiah is miracu-lous.

  • Preface

    Toward the end of a church service, the minister asked thecongregation, How many of you have forgiven your enemies?

    All held up their hands except one small elderly lady.

    Mrs. Jones? Are you not willing to forgive your enemies?

    I dont have an enemy in the world, she replied, smilingsweetly.

    Mrs. Jones, that is very unusual. How old are you?

    I happen to be ninety-eight years young, she replied.

    Oh, Mrs. Jones, would you please come down in front andtell us all how a person can live ninety-eight years and nothave a single enemy?

    The little sweetheart of a lady tottered down the aisle,faced the congregation, and said, I outlived them all.

    Though this story is humorous our subject matter is not. I have seen many Bible Believers who have let Bitterness and Resentment eat them up like a cancer as they refuse to forgive those who have trespassed against them. Many people recite the Lords Prayer as a form of habit or religion not really adherring to the words of it. It is my desire as you read this book to willingly Uproot the Root of Bitterness and Rejection and allow the Balm of Gilead to soothe you and allow blessing to thoughs who have hurt you. Yeshua said to bless those who persecute you! I ask you to allow the Ruach Hakodesh, the Holy Spirit to minister to you as read this book.

  • FORWARD

    Dear Readers,

    Marvin Pressman writes with the passion and compassion of someone who has been there. All of us at one point or another have felt like we were on the outside looking in. Many of us have shared the sorrows of being rejected or made the black sheep within our own families. Jesus too suffered the unbelief of his brethren and the rejection of those he came for.

    There are many people who never recover from the deep feelings of rejection. It colors their entire lives and builds walls of distrust that are hard to conqueror. Praise our Messiah- God has made a way to over-come!

    Marvin points us to our Meshiach, Jesus, the One who tasted rejection on our behalf; so that our lives can be free from the weight of rejection and so we can be healed once and for all.

    Readers, if this is your easily besetting sin, Marvin will walk you through the practical application of getting free. If God is for you, who can now stand against you?

    This book will help help to deliver the captives that are bound up with rejection..

    (Phil. 3: 13, 14) Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but [this] one thing [I do], forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.

    Hollis CaravettaOpen Seal On Fire Ministries

    (I. 53; 3, 4) He is despised and rejected of men; a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief: and we hid as it were [our] faces from him; he was despised, and we esteemed him not. Surely he hath borne our griefs, and carried our sorrows:yet we did esteem him stricken, smitten of God, and afflicted.

  • CONTENTS

    Uprooting the Root of resentment and Bitterness...............1

    A Honeymoon Turned Sour.................................................2

    The Origin of Bitterness......................................................3

    The Profile of Bitterness......................................................6

    The Healing of Bitterness....................................................7

    Moving On . . . From Bitterness to Grace.........................12

  • 1UPROOTING THE ROOT OF BITTERNESS AND RESENTMENT!

    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).

    In business, family, church, and all areas of life, the opportunity to harbor bitterness for a wrong suffered is great! We experience plenty of situations and relationships that bring us hurt and pain. We have an abundance of occasions to either grow bitter or get better! The writer of the passage above admonishes us not to miss (or fail to receive) the grace of God so that bitterness wont spring up in us as a response to lifes pain. He cautions us, knowing that a bitter root grows and grows until it eventually defiles many others through a wake of bitterness.

    If bitterness is allowed to take root in our hearts, we eventually become imprisoned to it. Gods grace no longer has as great an effect in our lives. We become ineffective, insensitive, and spiritually dead. We can even become physically ill as a result of bitterness.

    As we begin this study, we need to recognize that God does not live in bitterness. He lives in grace! Praise the Lord He has provided sufficient grace for every person to walk in!

    A day will come (or perhaps has already come) when you will be challenged to deal with an individual who hurts you terribly. You will be faced with a decision: Will you choose bitterness, or will you choose grace? Although our natural tendency is to choose bitterness, God provides the courage to choose grace.

  • 2A Honeymoon Turned Sour

    Those of you who are married probably never thought it possible for your new wife or husband to make you mad during your honeymoon. The nation of Israel started their faith in a honeymoon state. The people had been in slavery and praying for freedom for 430 years. Then this chosen generation of a chosen people realized their dream. What they had dreamed and prayed for was finally reality.

    They must have been on one incredible emotional high at this point. They must have been awestruck by the events that they had just seen with their own eyes: ten divine plagues on Egypt which forced their ruler to let them go, the parting of the Red Sea, and the defeat of their enemies.

    God was guiding the Children of Israel with a cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night. They could literally see Him! God was speaking to His servant (their leader), Moses. They were headed to the Promised Land and toward all the promises that would be fulfilled in them. They must have dreamed every night under the desert stars of the new life they would have, the opportunities, the new horizon, and the hope their children would enjoy.

    But soon their dreams and hopes turned to disappointment. They became mad . . . at God. How did this happen? What changed for them? How did the honeymoon so quickly go sour?

    Today, we are going to discover answers to these questions. Well look at the life-altering issues of where bitterness comes from, what it looks like, and what it does in our lives. Well learn how to be healed of its devastation and move on to a life of grace instead of resentment.

  • 3The Origin of Bitterness

    Then Moses led Israel from the Red Sea and they went into the Desert of Shur. For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water. When they came to Marah, they could not drink its water because it was bitter. (That is why the place is called Marah.) (Exodus 15:22-23).

    The Children of Israel, having just been miraculously delivered from the Egyptians, immediately journeyed into the wilderness. But after only three days, they found themselves without water.

    What? No water? they must have asked God. Are you kidding? How can we exist without water?

    Their honeymoon of faith came to a screeching halt! The faith that marked their first three days in the wilderness was quickly replaced with bitterness and disappointment.

    Have you ever found yourself in a place such as this?

    The Israelites needed to understand, and we need to understand, that bitterness towards God always begins with a misunderstanding of what faith is really all about.

    Exodus 15:22 tells us they had just come from the Red Sea, the site of their greatest victory. Now, in this honeymoon period, they must have been thinking and feeling, It cant get any better than this. It cant get any more exciting, any more wonderful!

    Well have it made for the rest of our lives, they were surely telling themselves. No more trouble! No more pain! No more oppression or worries! No more hardships, sadness, sorrow, or tears! No more discouragement, disappointment, cares, or needs! Best of all, no more Egyptians! Just good times from now on.

    The Children of Israel must have been singing, Happy times are

  • 4here again!

    Have you ever sung that tune?

    Sometimes new believers have the feeling that it will only be good times from now on. They, like the Israelites, misunderstand what happens when one follows God. In the Israelites journey from Egypt to the Promised Land, they came to a place called Marah, meaning bitterness. The honeymoon ended.

    As B.B King says, The thrill is gone!

    This place, Marah, reflected a condition found in every human heart. It only requires a given set of circumstances, and bitterness (which is really the sin of rebellion and resentment against God) will surface.

    It was not by chance that the Israelites ended up at Marah where they found only bitter water to drink. You see, the people had not been merely wandering around aimlessly in the desert for those three days. They did not just stumble upon the bitter water. Rather, the Israelites were actually following Moses who was being led by the cloud during the day and the fire at night. In other words, their bitterness toward God actually originated during a time of His leading, direction, and guidance.

    Believers often ignore the fact that God, in His perfect leading, allows His people to go through periods of testing. We believers want iron with no flaws and wood with no cracks. We want gardens with no weeds, clothes that never wear out, and if we could, food which grows already cooked. But it is in the flaws of life, and our prevailing through them, that makes us strong in faith and steadfast in our trust in God.

    Bitterness in the hearts of the Israelites arose from two causes:

  • 51. The Failure of Human Resource

    For three days they traveled in the desert without finding water (Exodus15:22).

    The Children of Israel had not yet learned to rely on God for all their needs. They should not have assumed that it would be a simple human task to find drinking water. Lets look back for a moment and ask ourselves: Where did they get their water for those first three days in the desert? From Egypt! They carried it in canteens, but soon their canteens were empty. And then, they naturally looked around for a river and they found one. It must have been a considerable river, because there were at least hundreds of thousands of people and cattle that eventually drank from it. The very sight of that river made them feel that all was well again. But it wasnt. They discovered they did not have enough resources to get them through.

    The failure of human resources leads to the second part of the cause of bitterness.

    2. The Nature of Human Recourse

    The failure of human resource always reveals the nature of human recourse. When the Children of Israel ran out of water, it appeared at first that there was no problem. After all, they could see a river ahead of them. They had a recourse, something else to go to. Their hopes were lifted but only to be disappointed again. Scholars tell us that the water was not only bitter, but also contaminated, and therefore capable of transmitting disease.

    This sequence of events clearly shows us the human tendency of not wanting to relinquish control of our lives to God. We often look everywhere else, or trust in anything else, than God. But real faith in a real world means not just believing that God is, but also trusting Him in good times and hard times. It means relying on

  • 6Gods resources and Gods recourses.

    The Profile of Bitterness

    In addition to the problem of bitterness, there was something worse going on: So the people grumbled against Moses, saying, What are we to drink? (Exodus 15:24).

    When resentment and bitterness fill our hearts, the poison of destructive criticism also begins to creep in.

    Moses was the leader chosen by God to take His people to the Promised Land. He was doing exactly what God had directed him to do, guiding the people to this very point. So what happened? The people found themselves without water, and the water they did find was bitter. They began murmuring against Moses and against God.

    When we take our eyes off the Lord during hardships in our lives, our perspectives inevitably become blurred, and we begin to blame other people. Moses was not to blame in this instance. He was just following God.

    When we find ourselves in periods of testing, we should never make snap judgments because those judgments are usually, if not always, wrong. When we come face to face with hardships or challenges, we must turn to the Lord with the faith of contentment and not run from the Lord with the fire of resentment.

    The poison of destructive criticism is always associated with the poison of disruptive cynicism. The people asked, What are we to drink? They needed water but could not find any. Instead of believing that God would help, they became cynical. Cynicism is the attitude of unbelief. It is the belief that nothing is good, and nothing ever will be good even with Gods help.

    The Children of Israel had every reason to believe that God would come to their rescue because of all the miracles He had

  • 7already done! Yet they chose to forget all that and never even considered seeking God. We too get ourselves stuck in confusion and frustration when we dont look to God for the answers to our needs.

    When the Israelites didnt have an answer for where to find water, they should have remembered that God had the answer. The prayer of faith always prevails over cynicism. But what can we do if we fall into spiritual bitterness and resentment?

    The Healing of Bitterness

    Then Moses cried out to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a piece of wood. He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made a decree and a law for them, and there he tested them (Exodus 15:25-27).

    God does not want us to be bitter, critical, or cynical. There is no joy in that. He wants to heal these attitudes in us.

    1. Part One of the Cure: Listening to His Voice

    The healing of bitterness begins when we hear Gods voice. He tells us, as He told the Children of Israel, TO LISTEN CAREFULLY TO HIS VOICE! The reason they went astray was because they did not hear the Lords voice. And they didnt hear Gods voice because they did not pray. If they had prayed, He would have answered.

    Moses had the right idea in the face of this hardship. His solution was to cry out to God. Moses recognized that since God had called them on this journey, He would also provide the necessary water. Moses prayed to God and then listened for God to speak. God told him how to purify the water so he and the people could drink.

    The Hebrew words in our text show that the people murmured or complained about God. But significantly, Moses complained to God in faith believing God would listen. There is a big difference.

  • 8It is important when we are enduring hardship that we complain to God not complain about God. Crying out to God is the best way to remember who God is. It renews our faith and trust. Praying presupposes an active faith in Him, not just believing that He exists.

    Faith believes in a God who lives and loves, who reaches out to man and down to him, helping him with his life, guiding him in the way he reacts to difficulties, strengthening him where he is weak, and using him when he is open to serving Him.

    When we are threatened to become bitter because of hardships or disappointments, we need to pray and listen to God. He will purge those feelings.

    2. Part Two of the Cure: Seeking His Face

    The next part of the cure for bitterness, after carefully listening to Gods voice, is to SEEK HIS FACE. If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

    Through Moses came the answer for the Israelites problem. In Hebrew, the word for Torah (tr) means law or instruction. It is from hr, meaning to throw, direct, teach, derived stem of yr, to throw, shoot. Torah is more than a synonym for law; it involves a lot more than a legal world. Torah means Gods wisdom. It means teaching, instruction, and direction.

    This is what we need to journey through life to the promised land of heaven Gods direction. The journey is different than the destination, just like the flight to Hawaii is not the same as vacationing in Hawaii. Therefore, we need wisdom, instruction, and direction to deal with lifes realities. Gods Word and His

  • 9timeless truth can sweeten bitterness in our heart.

    Do not allow yourself to look towards the changes and chances of this life in fear. Rather, look to them with full hope that, as they arise, God (whose you are!) will deliver you out of them. He has kept you and will lead you safely through all things and when you cannot stand, He will bear you in His arms. He will either shield you from suffering or give you unfailing strength to bear it. Be at peace, then, and put aside all anxious thoughts and imaginations.

    Has some difficulty caused you to sink into bitterness, hopelessness, and faithlessness? God will help you if you pray and seek His wisdom in His word.

    The Children of Israel were to know His grace.

    If you listen carefully to the voice of the Lord your God and do what is right in his eyes, if you pay attention to his commands and keep all his decrees, I will not bring on you any of the diseases I brought on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, who heals you (Exodus 15:26).

    Imagine . . . the unmerited grace of God applied to all our need! A person walking in obedience knows the grace of his Lord moment by moment, and there is a constant purging and healing each day. David, the shepherd, soldier, and king knew nothing of a fragmented grace of God in his life. He could say, He [Jehovah] restores my soul (Psalm 23:3). And because of that restoring grace, David had no want in life and no worry in death.

    David affirms in Psalm 23: The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want. Then David adds, Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil . . . goodness and mercy will follow me all the days of my life.

    George Mueller, founder of the Bristol Orphanage, was relating to a friend some of the difficulties he had to contend with in

  • 10

    providing the orphans with food day and night. When he had finished, his friend said to him, You seem to live from hand to mouth.

    Yes, said Mueller, but it is my mouth and Gods hand!

    Even though we are saved and on our way to heaven, that old nature within us still acts and reacts in bitterness and resentment. But thank the Lord, along with the problem and poison of bitterness, there is purging. God has the answer, and we must hear His voice, seek His face, and know His grace if we are to enjoy a life of victory.

    Marah (or bitterness) is your problem and mine. Of course, here the lack of drinking water represents human inadequacy. When we count on human resources there is always failure and disappointment. This is true especially in the matter of spiritual growth. If you have fallen into the trap of struggling for holiness and purity of life, then realize that it doesnt come by way of struggle. It comes through surrender! We need to surrender to God! If we are going to drink water at all, it must be water from heaven. Only then will it be as John 4:14 tells us a fountain of water springing up into everlasting life.

    The danger of bitterness is plain and penetrating: Neither let us tempt Christ, as some of them also tempted . . . neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured (I Cor.10:9-10).

    No problem that lies between us and that goal (of not murmuring) is too great for God to handle. The character of the death of our Lord Jesus Christ is not only redemptive; it is cosmic. There is no situation in which you can find yourself for which Jesus Christ did not die.

    So he [Moses] cried out to the Lord; and the Lord showed him a tree (Ex.15:25).

  • 11

    With an appropriate instrument, Moses cut the tree. In so doing, he symbolically illustrated what would happen when Jesus died upon the cross. When Messiah submitted to those nails in His hands and feet, He was, in fact, cut off from the land of the living.

    For he was cut off from the land of the living; for the transgression of my people he was stricken (Isaiah 53:8).

    That symbolical cut of the tree was the death of the Messiah. Moses took that severed tree and plunged it into the water. In other words, he applied the Cross to the problem. Then what happened?

    He threw it into the water, and the water became sweet (Exodus15:25).

    The poison lurking in that water creating bitterness and disease was immediately cleansed and the water became pure and sweet again. There is no bitter or poisoned experience in our lives that cannot be sweetened by the Cross of our wonderful Messiah.

    The blood of Jesus [the Messiah], his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

    It makes no difference how deep the problem is, thank God, the Cross is more than adequate. Jesus said: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me (John 10:27).

    When standing before Pilate, with the darkness of the Cross before Him, Jesus said: Every one that is of the truth heareth My voice (John 18:37).

    People who follow close to Jesus will not be tempted to murmur, grumble, or complain because they are hearing His voice and that is all that matters. In the Old Testament, the sight of God, the eyes of God, are symbolic of walking in the light. That is why the priests used to pronounce the blessing:

    The Lord bless you and keep you; the Lord make His face shine

  • 12

    upon you, and be gracious to you; the Lord turn his face toward you, and give you peace (Numbers 6:24-26).

    The shining of the face of Jehovah (the light of His face) was always an evidence of the favor of God, of walking in the light, and of communion with God. By the same token, whenever God turned away His face, it was because the people lost His favor. They had sinned and were out of the light.

    Jesus tells us: I am the light of the world. He that followeth shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life (John 8:12).

    Jesus also says: If we walk in the light, as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ [the Messiah], his Son, cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

    You can always identify a man who is hearing the voice of Jesus because he can hear the voice of the Word, the voice of the Spirit, and he can seek the face of Jesus at any moment and in any situation. It is a lifting of the heart, a looking away to heaven in unbroken communion.

    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).

    Moving On . . . From Bitterness to Grace

    The enemy of our souls has a very specific strategy to destroy relationships. Whether these relationships are in business, family, or church, the strategy is the same. A conflict arises, judgments are made, and feelings are hurt. What happens next is the defining point of whether the enemy gains a foothold, or whether the grace of God prevails over the wrong.

    When a root of bitterness is allowed to be planted and grown, it not only affects that person, but it also affects all others involved.

  • 13

    It is like a cancer. Breaking Satans foothold requires at least one person to press into Gods grace. It will not happen when either party feels like it, for none of us ever feel like forgiving. None of us feel like talking when we have been hurt. Our natural response is to withdraw or lash out at the offending party.

    It is only obedience to God that allows Gods grace to cover the wrongs incurred. This grace prevents the parties from becoming victims who seek compensation for their personal pain.

    The next time you are hurt by someone, realize the gravity of the crossroads where you find yourself. Choose grace instead of bitterness. Then you will be free to move past the hurt, and a root of bitterness will not be given opportunity to grow.

    A mans wisdom gives him patience; it is to his glory to overlook an offense (Proverbs 19:11).

    Whenever we work close to another person, whether in an office or home, small offenses can become the source of great conflict. Resentment and irritability soon follow. God brings these offenses into our lives to develop character qualities in us.

    He uses individuals in our lives to accomplish His goal of making us more like Christ. The next time you complain or become irritated by a habit or action in someone close to you, ask God if it has been placed there to develop some quality in you. Pride is the source of our need to change another person. But a mans wisdom gives him patience to let go of little offenses. This is where spiritual maturity is seen in the day-to-day activities of life.

    Is there someone close to you who has a habit you really want to change? Give up that desire to the Lord. Who knows, God may even change the habit after you let go of the need to change it.

    A great difficulty or obstacle in the way of divine healing is the

  • 14

    lack of divine love flowing in the hearts of Gods children. It is remarkable how many times we have found some child of God cherishing a secret grudge against another Christian. Sometimes it is a thing which has been long buried and almost forgotten. Notice that word almost. The sting of the situation may even be past, but it has become a root of bitterness in the hearts of those involved.

    We must diligently look to Jesus that the root of bitterness might not spring up in our hearts.

    Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord. 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 12:14-15).

    And, if that nasty root of bitterness does spring up, it is because we have failed to trust in the grace of God which would have kept us from any such sorrow or misery. No matter how far in the past our feelings of resentment and bitterness have been, they must be confessed, put under the blood, and if possible confession be made to the one against whom there has been ill feeling.

    It is not a question of our being right or wrong. We may have been right in the first place, but our lack of love for our neighbor made us wrong in Gods sight.

    Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamor, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christs sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:31-32).

    Brothers and sisters, God does heal our bitterness and disappointments!

  • 15

    Let us take time now to pray.

    Father, we thank You that Youre going to transform us so that we become more like Jesus who forgave all our sins and set the pattern for us to forgive each other.

    Lord, Im sure that even as we are here in this moment of prayer looking into our own hearts, we can identify someone that we need to forgive, someone who has wronged us, someone who has been unkind, unfair, someone who has made life difficult and painful, someone who has cheated us, stolen from us something precious . . . tangible or intangible . . . someone who has misrepresented us but Lord, we need to forgive.

    For how can we be like You if we dont forgive those people who sin against us?

    How can we be like You if we go out and have bitterness in our hearts and refuse to forgive a person who has hurt us or wronged us in some way? Forgive us! Father, make us to be forgiving. We purpose in our heart to forgive! Take the root of bitterness out of our hearts! Cleanse us with Your blood!

    May we develop the character, the action, and the motivation of those who forgive. We pray in Jesus name and truly for His sake.

    Lord, root out any bitterness in us and help us to deal with it as Your Word directs. In Jesus name, please fill us with love for our neighbors.

    Amen.

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