SERMON DATE AND TITLE: 2008-10-19: "The Root Of Bitterness"

This page contains the complete audio-only sermon in downloadable SWF flash format, which will begin playing upon opening this page

The sermon outline is also included here.

Want a download or CD copy?  Read this.




          Where does the bitter root start in the human heart? For me it started with my immature, impulsive, risk-taking alcoholic father. It starts with injury, being victimized, inner vows, judgments and resolutions against those who caused the injury. From there it progresses to deep seated, unresolved hostility and pain. It hardens in the human heart into hatred and solidifies into bitterness. This becomes a bitter root. It is something that chokes our soul. It destroys our humanity and the humanity of those around us. It reduces us to calloused, indifferent, self-centered people whose only interest in life is selfish desires and wishes.

          The Sunday after our return from our road trip to find ourselves betrayed and our home violated, we began the process of praying for the perpetrators. The process of prayer for our enemies actually began in Minneapolis when more than thirty pastors and wives gathered around us and prayed for the young men involved in our break-in.

          The remedy for bitterness is the love of Jesus and a long-term relationship with him. Jesus called us into His Kingdom of light and urged us to obey His commands, especially to pray for the perpetrators of injustice in our lives. Suffering an injustice, obsessing about it and harboring it in your heart is a formula for giving the devil a foothold in your life through the root of bitterness.

          This sermon explores the root of bitterness and how to get rid of it through Jesus Christ.


Sheepfold Ministries – October 19, 2008

Pastor Phil Roland


"Bitterness is the greatest tool at the enemy's disposal.  With bitterness Satan can divide and destroy Christians, families, churches and even communities."                       Pastor Phil Roland


"See to it that no one misses the grace of God and that no bitter root grows up to cause trouble and defile many."                                                Heb. 12:15; Ex. 15:22-27


"In those days they shall say no more: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.'  "But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge. Jeremiah 31,29,30



"In those days they shall say no more: 'The fathers have eaten sour grapes, And the children's teeth are set on edge.'  "But every one shall die for his own iniquity; every man who eats the sour grapes, his teeth shall be set on edge.”

          A. Bitterness comes from unhealed hurts and wounds

                        1. Pain from Parent/Child Relationship

                        2. Pain from the Husband/Wife Relationship

                        3. The Deepest Hurts Come from Those Closest to Us

            B. Bitterness Pollutes the Entire Christian

                        1. Evident in a person's SPEECH

                        2. Evident in a person's ACTIONS

                        3. Evident in a person's ATTITUDES

            C. Bitterness Pollutes Others

            D. Bitterness Builds Walls of Isolation

                        1. Fear of Further Hurt or Pain

                        2. Fear and Distrust of People

                        3. Fear of Inner Hurts and Weaknesses Being Exposed

                        4. Loneliness

            E. Bitterness always Results in Broken Relationships

                        1. Repeated Flight and Withdrawal Patterns of Interpersonal                               Relationships

                        2. Critical, Judgmental Attitudes toward Others


          A. Broken Relationships cause us to be Blinded - 1John 2:9-12

            "But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where he is going, because the

            darkness has blinded him." 1 John 2:11

                        1. We become Blinded to Acting Wisely

                        2. We become Blinded to Seeing Ourselves

                        3. We become Blinded to Seeing Others as They Really Are

          B. Broken Relationships Cause Insensitivity

                        1. Life Becomes Self-Centered

                        2. There is no regard to the Needs of Others

            C. Broken Relationships cause Immaturity

                        1. Emotional Growth stops at the Time of Injury

                            (Arrested Development)

                        2. Emotional Growth resumes as Healing / Release comes


          A. The Progress of Bitterness

                        1. Resentment becomes bitterness

                        2. Blame becomes hatred

                        3. Deception becomes perversion

            B. Moses and Israel at the Waters of Marah - Exodus 15:22-27

                        1. It wasn't just the waters of Marah that were bitter

                                    a. The people murmured against Moses - v.24

                                    b. Moses cast a tree into the water - v. 25

                                    c. The Tree sweetened the water

                                    d. Only the Tree of Calvary can sweeten the bitter water

                                                of the rebellious, bitter human heart.

                        2. Moses gives us a remedy for Bitterness - v. 26

                      "He said, "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."

                        3. Jesus has a remedy for Human Bitterness

                                        a. His Cross “The Bridge to Heaven” – Gal. 6:14

                                        “May I never boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ,

                                         through which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the

                                         world. “

                                        b. His Holy Spirit “Receiving his Love”- John 20:21-23

                                       "Again Jesus said, "Peace be with you! As the Father has sent

                                        me, I am sending you." “And with that he breathed on them and

                                       said, "Receive the Holy Spirit.  If you forgive anyone his sins,

                                       they are forgiven; if you do not forgive them, they are not


                                     c. One Another “The Bridge of Love” – 1 John 1:7

                                      ”But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have

                                       fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus, his Son,

                                       purifies us from all sin.”



EXODUS 15:22-26

So Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea; then they went out into the Wilderness of Shur. And they went three days in the wilderness and found no water.

23  Now when they came to Marah, they could not drink the waters of Marah, for they were bitter. Therefore the name of it was called Marah.

24  And the people complained against Moses, saying, "What shall we drink?"

25  So he cried out to the LORD, and the LORD showed him a tree. When he cast it into the waters, the waters were made sweet. There He made a statute and an ordinance for them. And there He tested them,

26  and said, "If you diligently heed the voice of the LORD your God and do what is right in His sight, give ear to His commandments and keep all His statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought on the Egyptians. For I am the LORD who heals you."




          By now you all know about the burglary and break-in we suffered while we were away. I told Lois after it happened that when we got home we’d have to re-evaluate our entire ministry. I’ve always believed in Matthew 25:37-40

"Then the righteous will answer him, 'Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?'  "The King will reply, 'I tell you the truth, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers of mine, you did for Me.”

The betrayal of trust through the break-in caused far than the loss of some material things. It seriously challenged the core of our work here. It asks the question,

          “Are we safe in the place God has called us?”

          “Are we able to trust those among whom we serve?”

Interestingly, Saturday God provided an answer to the challenge and the questions.

          Mr. Rudiger is a ministry friend from the half-way house that volunteer time at my place every Saturday. The Saturday before we left on the trip, he supervised the younger volunteers as they cut down the remaining tree stump from a pine tree that blew down after a recent storm.  He guided them as they cut the roots one by one and pulled out the remaining stump. He placed new top soil over the hole made by the roots. He carefully sprinkled grass seed over the area, and began the patient watering of the seed so it could sprout and grow.

Even after we were being betrayed and violated he kept volunteering his time every day to patiently water the seed.

          Under his patient care, the seed has sprouted and new life is growing over where the stump and roots were.

Can you see this as a God-given analogy?

I certainly can.

Lois and I have been cutting bitter roots and pouring on Kingdom Seed and the Water of God’s Spirit all these years and the seeds are sprouting everywhere. Our treasures are safe.

Pastor Phil   <><<