Bitterness

I have been preaching through the book of Ephesians for about three years, on and off. I am currently at the end of chapter four right now and am to preach on bitterness tonight. Since this is an affliction that affects so many people, and by extension, so many churches, I thought I would share the portion of my sermon tonight that deals with bitterness. God bless!

Alan

In verse 31, Paul lists seven sins that are to abandoned by the children of God. Let’s take a little time to look at these sins, because they present an escalating attitude of resentment that can destroy our relationships with others.

a.  Bitterness – This word refers to a “smoldering resentment; a grudge-filled attitude.” Bitterness in the heart will fill a person with perpetual animosity. The bitter person will usually be sour and often filled with resentment and spite. Bitterness is mentioned first because the other attitudes that are mentioned in this verse flow out of bitterness.

Bitterness is dangerous, because the Bible says that it can become rooted in our lives, Heb. 12:15, and it will poison all the relationships we have in our lives. Bitterness comes from a heart that is not right with God, Acts 8:21-23. It is one of the major characteristics of a person who is not saved, Rom. 3:10-14. And it often leads to destruction of faith and relationships, Heb. 12:15.

A clear example of the danger of bitterness is a man named Ahithophel. Ahithophel was David’s counselor. When Absalom rebelled against his father, Ahithophel joined the rebellion. When it became clear that David would prevail, Ahithophel went to his house and committed suicide, 2 Sam. 17:23.

The reason Ahithophel committed suicide was because he was bitter about something David had done to a member of his family many years before. Ahithophel had a son named Eliam, 2 Sam. 23:34. Eliam had a daughter named Bathsheba, 2 Sam. 11:3. David committed adultery with Ahithophel’s granddaughter, and Ahithophel could not forgive and get past the sin of David. His resentment turned into bitterness and it poisoned Ahithophel to the point where it caused him to turn on a friend, and to eventually commit suicide.

Bitterness, if allowed to exist in our hearts, will produce a root system that will grow until it has infiltrated and undermined every area of your life. The root of bitterness will send its tendrils into every area of your life, and eventually,  it will destroy you.

  • Bitterness will make you sick physically. As you fret and worry over what you think persons or institutions have done to you, your body will respond in sickness.
  • Bitterness will harm you emotionally. The root of bitterness will entangle itself around your peace. your joy and your happiness and choke the life right out of them. It will leave you a sad, empty shell.
  • Bitterness will destroy your relationship with others. As bitterness grows, you will become a negative, critical person. Others will not want to be around you and you will eventually be left all alone.
  • Bitterness will demolish you spiritually. As you fixate on the person, persons or institutions that you feel wronged you, you will lose your focus on the Lord. The object of your worship becomes yourself and your feelings. In essence, you become your own god. There is a sense that the object of your bitterness also becomes a god in your life, because they, and not the Lord, have your attention. Bitter people destroy churches, ministries and other people’s influence.

 

Don’t let that happen in your life. Deal with your hurts and refute to allow them to grow into a “root of bitterness” that will choke the joy and peace out of your life. If it allowed to flourish, that “root of bitterness” will destroy you and all the relationships in your life. Bitter people are sad, hard to get along with, and ultimately, they are selfish, because they care for nothing but their own feelings. Bitterness grieves the Holy Spirit, v. 30.

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Great Day At Church

We had a good morning at church today. No, the service was not given over to testimonies. A few testified, but the feature that made the service so great, for me any way, was the the Gospel was preached. I praise the Lord for His grace in allowing me to preach the Gospel, and for my congregation to hear it preached. Not that I am a great preacher, but our Lord has a great Gospel, and it must be declared. After all, it is the means God uses to save sinners, 1 Cor. 1:21; Rom. 10:1. So preacher, preach the Gospel. God will use it to bring His elect to Himself! When you have preached the Gospel, it has been a great day at your church.

By the way, we have seen the Gospel do its work at Calvary. I baptized four of the people who were recently converted at our church last Sunday evening, and I am to baptize two more tonight. Praise His name.

Alan

Preaching With The iPad

A while back, I mentioned that I was going to write about using the iPad in preaching. After that post, I received several inquiries from preachers who were curious about how I used the iPad in the place of paper for my sermon notes.

I have been using the iPad in place of paper note for about a year and a half. I would not go back to paper notes unless I was forced to. I love using the iPad! When you first take it to the pulpit you do feel a bit strange having that piece of shiny technology lying there on the pulpit, but you actually forget about it and just use it like you would a paper outline. It has been my experience that most of the people in the congregation have no idea that you are using an iPad. They may see a strange glow on your face, or a little reflection in your glasses, but if you preach the Word of God, they really don’t care that you are using the iPad for your notes.

I still carry my Bible with me, and I do not intend to stop using it, because I would find it awkward to change back and forth between my notes and a Bible app while I was preaching. If you do decide to go the iPad route, here are a few suggestions I would take to heart.

1. Turn off the sound
2. Lock the screen orientation
3. Turn off the wifi, or at least disable push notification so things don’t pop up while you preach.
4. Be sure you have a good charge on the device before you leave for church.
5. Turn down the brightness on the screen.

Here are the apps and the process I utilize as part of my sermon preparation workflow.

I prepare all my sermons in a program called Scrivener. I use the Mac version, but a Windows version is also available.  The reason I use this program is that it allows me to keep all my writing, my research and my finished sermon in one place. Also, if I am preaching a series, I can prepare the entire series in one location, thus keeping all my material in one file. It’s pretty handy, if I do say so myself.

After the sermon is prepared in Scrivener, I export it to a .rtf file for final editing. In my case, I use Pages, but Word or any other word processor will work fine. In Pages I use a 12 point font for editing on the screen, and I save the file using this font size. When the sermon is finished, I will change the font size to 20 point and export it (or save it if using Word) as a .pdf. Both Pages and Word have this feature built in. The reason I change the font to 20 point is because of the size of the iPad screen. 20 point on the iPad is about the equivalent of 13 point in print, so it works for my older eyes. I prepare all my sermons in portrait orientation with .5″ margins. I also put the entire text of most Bible quotations into the sermon note.

Now that I have the sermon .pdf ready, it is time to upload it to the Internet so that I can access it on the iPad. I use a free service called Dropbox to store the files and to access them from the iPad. On the iPad, I use an app called Goodreader, there are several others available, but this one has all the features I am looking for. I open Goodreader, link it to by Dropbox account, and open the .pdf sermon file. It downloads to the iPad, where it can be accessed and edited as if it was a set of paper notes. I can write on it, highlight it, cross out word, sentences and paragraphs, etc. Changing pages is as simple as roughing the right side of the screen. Here are a couple of files, entitled Groaning Here, Glory There, The Ministry Of Intercessory Prayer, and When Shepherds Meet, that were edited on the iPad. This will give you some idea of the capabilities of Goodreader. Be sure to right click the .pdfs and download them prior to viewing them, if you want to see them in all their glory. For some reason, some browsers will not display all the formatting.

When I download the files onto the iPad, I place them in folders named for the book of the Bible from which the sermon came. Thus, all my sermons are arranged by books of the Bible. I have also arranged the books by Old and New Testament. I also have folders for Sunday School lesson, lectures I use in the Bible Institute, etc.

It sounds like this is a long and difficult process. However, it is really quite easy and fast. Once the preliminary apps are installed and the folders created, getting the files on the iPad is as easy as saving the in Dropbox and opening them in Goodreader. It literally takes just a few seconds. The hardest part of the whole is doing the difficult work of exegesis, exposition and sermon preparation, and that is as it should be.

Once the sermons have been prepared and uploaded to Dropbox, it is possible to carry all your sermons in your hand. I have every some I have preached since 1990 in my Dropbox folder. They have not all been converted to .pdf, but they can be accessed, opened and edited by a good number of iPad apps. So, when I go preach a meeting, I have instant access to thousands of my sermons. Of course, you must have an wifi connection to access the material in Dropbox, but everything that has already been downloaded into Goodreader, or whatever app you might use, will be there until you delete it.

So, there you go. I hope that little introduction proves helpful to you. If you have anymore questions, please feel free to comment on this post and I will be glad the answer right here. That way, the questions, answers and other comments will be available to everyone who comes here looking for this information. If you can give me some guidance on using he iPad in an more efficient manner, I would love to hear about how you do it.

Some may also be curious about the new Kindle Fire. After all, it is a lot less expensive than the iPad. I have been playing around with one for the past two weeks, and I really like it. It will serve me well as a reading device, but due to the small size of its screen, I do not think I will preaching from it. I may tinker around with a few files and see what comes of it. If anything does, I will let you know.

Later on, I will tell you about some other apps I use, if anyone is interested.

Alan

Let’s see…

Last time I posted was from Puerto Morelos Mexico. My wife Joan and I had a fantastic vacation in that beautiful little town. We have such a good time that we did not want to come home. I don’t know what you like to do on vacation, as for me, I like to read and rest. In that order, and I did lots of both during our time there. Some people have asked for photos of Puerto Morelos; I will try to post some in the near future.

So, I just wanted to stop by and welcome you to 2011. My son Jesse and I ended the year at Rustic Hills Baptist Church in Gastonia, NC preaching in a Watch Night service along with Wes Hammer and Robbie Stinson. The service was excellent! Pastor Jason Dowdell and his church organized a wonderful worship experience. So, 2011 began well, I would like to see it play out well, to the glory of God.

Last year was a horrendous year on many levels. Yet, amid the difficulties, it was a great year. For one thing, the Lord demonstrated His sufficient grace and unfailing presence on many occasions. For another, I discovered who my real friends were; that is always a blessing, and sometimes, it can even be somewhat of a surprise. All in all, I can look back on the past year with gratitude to God for His faithfulness, to my wife for her love and companionship, for my friends for their support, and you for continuing to visit The Sermon Notebook after all these years. As 2011 begins let us determine in our hearts that whatever this year may bring to pass in our lives, we will faithfully serve our God until Jesus comes.

There is much to do in our Lord’s Kingdom work. Let’s get to and make 2011 count for the glory of God.

Alan

El Bethel

We had another great service last night at the El Bethel Baptist Assembly. The choir from Casey Creek Baptist Church in Chesnee, SC provided the music for the service. They did a great job. Brother Gary Adkins is the Pastor of Casey Creek. He is a great man of God. I would appreciate it if you would continue to pray for the meeting. I would love to see the Lord move in power for His glory during the meeting. Well, I’ve got to get busy preparing for this evening’s service.

Alan

El Bethel Baptist Assembly

I am preaching this week at the El Bethel Baptist Assembly in Spartanburg, SC. We had a great service last night. A group of young people from a church in the area, who go by the name Blood Bought, did an excellent job with the music. I preached from Matthew 17, and the Lord blessed His Word. The El Bethel Baptist Assembly is a camp meeting comprised of several local churches. It has been going on some 60 years. It is a wonderful meeting and well worth attending. The people are very open to the things of the Lord and the Pastors who are involved are good, godly men. I am looking forward to a great week in the Lord. Please help us pray for the meeting as we seek the Lord and His touch. Pray for also as we travel back and forth each day. It is a little over 100 miles each way, so I leave early and get in late. At any rate, please pray for the meeting!

Alan