“How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?” April 14

Aside

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way?

Even if you haven’t followed along lately, I hope you’ll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.

 

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

 

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions?

 

Luke 12.1-31:

How Our Thinking Controls Our Emotions

 

Verses 22-31 repeat much of what we read a couple of months ago in Matthew 6 about worry and trust in God, but we can never hear these things often enough. Verses 29-31:

29 “And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. 30 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. 31 But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.

I especially like verse 29, “And do not … have an anxious mind.” Why are we so often anxious? What, generally, controls our emotions?

Philippians 4 says:

Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.

Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things. 

Have you ever prayed and given some situation to God, only to find yourself worried about it a hour later? Why do we find it so hard to leave our troubles with God?

I believe the answer is in verse 8.

When it comes to worry and anxiety, it’s not enough to pray and then go back to thinking about it, trying to figure out how God’s going to solve the issue, or as we often do, fretting about what we should do to fix the problem. We need to change our thinking.

It’s no accident that verse 8 follows 6 and 7. “Finally …” after you’ve prayed about it, “meditate on these things”! Think about them deeply.

What is it we’re to think about deeply?

We’re to focus on what’s true, not the what if’s and maybe’s. We’re to think about the greater truths. It may be true that your husband has lost his job, but the greater truth is that God is your Provider (2 Cor. 9.8; Phil. 4.19).

We’re to think about what’s noble and lovely. Believe the best of others. Don’t see them in the worst possible light. See them as God sees them. And remember no one is too hard for God (Prov. 21.1).

Think of the good, those things for which you can be thankful. Think about how God has taken care of you in the past and how You have seen Him work in the Bible and in the lives of people you know.

2 Corinthians 10.4-5 says:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal but mighty in God for pulling down strongholds, 5 casting down arguments and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God, bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ.

Notice the words “arguments”, “knowledge” and “thoughts.” These strongholds have to do with our thinking and patterns of thinking. We take our thoughts captive by replacing them with God-honoring, God-filtered ones.

When we’re tempted to worry and be anxious, we must remind ourselves that if the Lord is our Shepherd, we shall not want. We won’t lack anything we need. But, as I heard someone say, Psalm 23.1 may be the best known and least believed verse in the Bible.

How Does Our Thinking Affect Our Emotions? - What's going on in your heart and mind? Is there peace and trust? Or worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety or other negative emotions threaten to have their way? Even if you haven't followed along lately, I hope you'll take the time to read this post. Our thinking is so important and learning to think biblically makes all the difference in our emotional condition.When we start to wonder if our spouse will ever change, we must remind ourselves that our job is to first take the logs out of our own eyes (Matt. 7.5), that we overcome evil with good (Rom. 12.21) and that doing good to the other person will be the most likely way to bring conviction (Rom. 12.20).

When we start fretting about our children, we must remember that God only asks us to be faithful (1 Cor. 4.2) to teach and train them using godly principles (Eph. 6.4), not to unnecessarily frustrate them (Col. 3.21) or provoke them to anger (Eph. 6.4), and to leave the results in His hands (Prov. 22.6).

But in order to take our thoughts captive to these truths and others, we must first put God’s word in our hearts and minds. Romans 12.2 tells us:

“… be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.”

And Psalm 119.9-11 (NASB) says:

9 How can a young man keep his way pure?
By keeping it according to Your word.

10 With all my heart I have sought You;
Do not let me wander from Your commandments.

11 Your word I have treasured in my heart,
That I may not sin against You.

So when we’re feeling anxious or worried or a host of other negative emotions, let’s stop and take an inventory of our thoughts.

The Sovereign God who watches over all the details of life is watching over us. He knows what we need. Our focus is to be on doing the things that advance His kingdom. But if we’re not purposefully thinking and meditating on those things, our default modes of worry, anxiety, anger, other sinful thought patterns will take over.

 

How Journaling Can Help

 

When I’m counseling people struggling with emotional issues, I often ask them to keep a journal. It’s often very revealing for them to slow down and ask themselves a series of questions.  Continue reading

“Giving & the Heart of the Giver” March 12

 

Giving & the Heart of the Giver - Do you ever feel like you have so little to give to God? So little in the way of talent or time or resources? What kind of giving does God desire and what does the heart of the giver have to do with it?Do you ever feel like you have so little to give to God? So little in the way of talent or time or resources? What kind of giving does God desire and what does the heart of the giver have to do with it?

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 21 & 22
Psalm 33.10-17
Proverbs 11.25-26
Mark 12.28-44

 

Giving & the Heart of the Giver

 

Mark 12.28-44:

Giving & Our Heart Attitudes

 

Jesus and His disciples are observing those giving in the temple:

“Then one poor widow came and threw in two mites, …So He called His disciples to Himself and said to them, ‘Assuredly, I say to you that this poor widow has put in more than all those who have given to the treasury; for they all put in out of their abundance, but she out of her poverty put in all that she had, her whole livelihood'” (vv. 42-44).

The New Living Translation says she gave “all that she had to live on.” Bible dictionaries say these coins were worth less than a penny a piece. This poor widow humbly and quietly gave all that she had.

In Matthew 6.2 Jesus warned against following the example of some who, while the gifts may have been large, made a show of their giving:

“So when you give to the poor, do not sound a trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, so that they may be honored by men. Truly I say to you, they have their reward in full (NASB).

They wanted to be seen and heard by men, but this poor widow’s giving was seen and heard in heaven. God is not looking at the size of the gift, but at the heart of the giver!

How is your heart when you give? Do you give begrudgingly? Cheerfully? Sacrificially? This is not about earning God’s love. He already loves each of us enough to die for us. It’s not about looking good to others like religious people of Jesus’ time.

Even though God works through the giving of His people, He doesn’t need our money (Ps. 24.1, 50.10). He wants our hearts!

 

TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:

 

Numbers 21 & 22:

As Moses Lifted Up the Serpent in the Wilderness

 

Christ on the crossIn chapter 21 God had blessed the Nation of Israel with military success. He continued to feed them supernaturally, protect them and rule over them. Yet they continued to grumble, complain and turn against Moses. As a result God sent poisonous snakes into the camp. These snakes had a bite that caused a fiery inflammation.

But even then God made a provision for them to be saved from the consequences of their sin. He instructed Moses to put an image of the snake, the result of their sin, on a pole and anyone who looked at it, was saved from death.

John 3.14-15 says, “And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”

As a result of our sin, Jesus allowed Himself to be hung or lifted up on a cross so that whoever looks to Him will also be saved, not from physical death, but from eternal spiritual death!

According to A.W. Tozer in his book The Pursuit of God, looking and believing are synonymous. While Israel looked with their physical eyes, we look on or believe in with the heart.

 

Psalm 33.10-17:

Blessed by God, and Yet …

 

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“Blessed is the nation whose God is the LORD, the people He has chosen as His own inheritance.”

Like the nation of Israel, our nation has been blessed by God in so many ways: militarily, financially, with an abundance of food, protection, unheard of freedoms, and yet, we’ve turned to gods of our own making. The only answer is turning back to the One true God. That begins with us. We must surrender fully to Him in our own hearts, minds and lives, and pray for a great revival in our nation.

Whether or not our nation as a whole will turn back to God, we don’t know, but just as God protected individuals in the nation of Israel from what was going on around them, Continue reading

“Modesty & Discretion: Does God care how we dress & speak?” March 11

 

Modesty & Discretion: Does God care how we dress & speak? - What does God value in a woman? Does He care about modesty and discretion? About how we dress or talk? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things? Check out our proverbs reading to learn more.What does God value in a woman? Does He care about modesty and discretion? About how we dress or talk? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things? Check out our proverbs reading to learn more.

 

Today’s Readings:
Numbers 19 & 20
Psalm 33.1-9
Proverbs 11.22-24
Mark 12.1-27

 

Modesty & Discretion: Does God care how we dress & speak?

 

Proverbs 11.22-24:

To the Ladies:

 

What does our clothing and behavior say about us? Is clothing merely a fashion statement? Is it our right to dress any way we choose? Is off color language simply part of life in the business world? Does the Bible have anything to say about these things and other ways that we relate to those around us?

It turns out God has a great deal to say about these things. Verse 22 in today’s reading for starters.

“As a ring of gold in a swine’s snout, so is a lovely woman who lacks discretion.”

A beautiful woman without discretion—a woman without modesty, wisdom and grace—is compared to a pig!

A pig is an animal who roots around in garbage, an animal that you can clean up, but who will go right back to the pig sty! The beauty of a woman without discretion is like a jewel put in the nose of an animal that pokes around in the slop!

Ladies, why do we stand around and listen to dirty jokes, or laugh at them, or … tell them? Why do we reveal parts of our bodies that should be reserved for our husbands or future husbands—by wearing things that are too low, too short or too tight? And why do we allow our daughters to dress that way?

Why do we allow gossip and criticism and unwholesome things to come out of our mouths? Why do we watch TV shows and movies and read books that fill our minds with things contrary to the Word and make us look like the rest of the world?

The Bible doesn’t give us rules and regulations about the length of our skirts or the style of our clothes and I don’t want to either. And we need to be extremely careful about becoming self-righteous in this area, especially when it comes to visitors to our churches or with new believers. But as we grow in Christ we should be more sensitive to these issues and more aware of the heart attitudes behind them.

When asked what is the greatest commandment, Jesus said in short, love God and love others (Matt. 22.37-40). Our behavior has an effect on others: on our brothers in Christ, on our sisters in Christ who are their wives, on those who look to us as an example, and to the world who is watching to see if there is really anything different about us.

More than once, I’ve heard women say, “I like to dress this way. If men look at me, that’s their problem.” Certainly, men are responsible for what they do with their eyes, but we are also responsible if we’re a stumbling block.

For this is the will of God, your sanctification: that you should abstain from sexual immorality; that each of you should know how to possess his own vessel in sanctification and honor, not in passion of lust, like the Gentiles who do not know God; that no one should take advantage of and defraud his brother in this matter, because the Lord is the avenger of all such, as we also forewarned you and testified. For God did not call us to uncleanness, but in holiness. (1 Thess. 4.3-7).

One definition of defraud is to offer something for sale that you don’t intend to provide.

But fornication and all uncleanness or covetousness, let it not even be named among you, as is fitting for saints; neither filthiness, nor foolish talking, nor coarse jesting, which are not fitting, but rather giving of thanks. (Eph. 5.3-4)

Instead, may the Lord help us to be the women Peter talked about:

“Do not let your adornment be merely outward—arranging the hair, wearing gold, or putting on fine apparel—rather let it be the hidden person of the heart, with the incorruptible beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is very precious in the sight of God” (1 Pet. 3.3-4).

 

A Note to the Men:

 

Men, I pray that you will become the kind of men who value what God values in a woman, rather than the world. Too many men value the wrong things. Sadly, I’ve even seen men with 1 Peter 3.3-4 wives who were demanding they become Proverbs 11.22 women!

 

TODAY’S OTHER READINGS:

 

Numbers 19 & 20:

Whining, Murmuring, & Complaining

 

Almost 40 years had passed since the Israelites were brought out of Egypt. Most of the adults had died just as God said they would. They did not enter the Promised Land because they listened to the evil report of the ten spies instead of trusting God. Now there was a new generation murmuring against God. They seem to have learned more from their parents’ example than from their parents’ fate!

What are your children learning from you? Do you tell them not to “whine and complain” while you “whine and complain” about your spouse, your boss, your government (this one hits pretty close to home for me), your mother-in-law or whatever?

This is one way the sins of the fathers and mothers are visited on the children Continue reading

“Complaining & Fire in the Camp!” March 7

 

Complaining & Fire in the Camp

As a nation we have complained, taken credit for God’s blessings, and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Has our complaining and rejection of God finally produced “fire in the camp”?


Today’s Readings:
Numbers 11 & 12
Psalm 31.15-18
Proverbs 11.12-14
Mark 10.1-31

 

Complaining & Fire in the Camp!

 

Numbers 11 & 12:

A Nation of Complainers

 

Chapter 11.1, “Now when the people complained, it displeased the LORD; for the LORD heard it, and His anger was aroused. So the fire of the LORD burned among them, and consumed some in the outskirts of the camp.”

God had been merciful to the Israelites. He had delivered them from 400 years of bondage in Egypt. He not only brought them out of Egypt without a fight, but had caused the Egyptians to give them a great deal of wealth as they left (Ps. 105.37). He led them and protected them from the pursuing Egyptian army and parted the Red Sea so they could cross on dry land. He comforted them and warned away their enemies with a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night.

As they traveled their feet didn’t swell and their clothes didn’t wear out (Neh. 9.21). He fed them with food from heaven (manna), gave them water in the wilderness and demonstrated His power and presence over and over.

Yet … what did they do? They complained!

And what about us as Americans or you wherever you live? We live in perhaps the greatest and most prosperous nation on earth. Our poor are better off than the majority in many nations. God has blessed us with an abundance of natural resources, a beautiful land, creativity and ingenuity beyond measure. We have freedoms almost unheard of in the world: freedom to worship, freedom to vote, freedom to pursue an education, freedom to live where we want, even freedom to protest. Instead of being thankful we frequently complain.

Not only have we complained, but we have taken credit for the things with which He has blessed us and kicked Him out of the government, the schools, and the public arenas of life. Is it any wonder our complaining, unthankfulness, and rejection of God as a nation has finally produced “fire in the camp”?

 

The Answer

Continue reading

“When You’re Whining” February 2

 

grumbling and complainingI hope I’m not the only one who falls so easily into the trap of grumbling and complaining. After all, it seems like such a little thing! Yet, in reality, we’re not just complaining about our circumstances or other people, but against our Sovereign God. We’re called to shine the light into a dark world, but it’s hard to be shining when you’re whining!

 

Today’s Readings:
Exodus 15 & 16
Psalm 18.20-27
Proverbs 6.12-15
Matthew 21.23-46

 

When You’re Whining

 

Exodus 15 & 16:

Grumbling & Complaining

 

The children of Israel had just watched God deliver them in a powerful way. He had parted the Red Sea and allowed them to cross over on dry land and then completely destroyed their enemies. What a celebration that must have been! God had gloriously and miraculously delivered the Israelites from the powerful armies of Egypt, a world power at that time. There was singing and dancing. The whole congregation glorifying God!

But then … three days later … three days! Their concern over their physical needs caused them to grumble against Moses. The text in verse 25 of chapter 15 says that God was testing them.

Again God worked miraculously by making the water drinkable. In fact, He did exceeding abundantly above all they could ask or think, as He so often does for us (Eph. 3:20), by leading them to Elim where there were “twelve wells of water and seventy palm trees” (15.27).

Then a few verses and a month later we read:

“Then the whole congregation of the children of Israel complained against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness. And the children of Israel said to them, ‘Oh, that we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the pots of meat and when we ate bread to the full! For you have brought us out into this wilderness to kill this whole assembly with hunger’ ” (16:2-3).

Again it was all about physical needs.

From our vantage point, it seems so foolish of them, after all God had done, to so quickly throw aside their trust in Him. But … before we get too critical, what about us? Continue reading

October 7 “Whine or shine?”

sunshine shineWhen faced with difficulty, do you whine or shine? You have no greater opportunity to “shine” than when you have every reason, by the world’s standards, to grumble, whine and complain!

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 65 & 66
Psalm 116.1-4
Proverbs 26.28
Philippians 2.1-30

 

Isaiah 65 & 66:

He found me!

Verse 1, “I was sought by those who did not ask for Me; I was found by those who did not seek Me. I said, ‘Here I am, here I am,’ to a nation that was not called by My name.”

We often say, “I found God,” but the truth is, it’s always Him who “finds” us!

 

Psalm 116.1-4:

He has heard my voice

“I love the LORD, because He has heard my voice and my supplications. Because He has inclined His ear to me, therefore I will call upon Him as long as I live. The pains of death surrounded me, and the pangs of Sheol laid hold of me; I found trouble and sorrow. Then I called upon the name of the LORD. ‘O LORD, I implore You, deliver my soul!’”

This is the kind of faith we should all desire, faith that will not only allow us to run the race, but to complete it, as well!

 

lies lying fingers crossedProverbs 26.28:

Light, lying and darkness

“A lying tongue hates those who are crushed by it, and a flattering mouth works ruin.”

Lies hurt people! But an outright lie is not the only way to “lie.”

When we deceive or when we twist the truth to suit our purposes or to justify our behavior or to make ourselves look good or to gain sympathy, it’s lying just as surely as if we make up a tale out of whole cloth.

And isn’t that what the devil does, he takes the truth and puts his spin on it? Just as he did with Eve, he mixes his lies with just enough truth, to make them plausible: “Did God really say, ‘don’t eat the fruit of any of the trees?’” Continue reading

September 13 “Whining or shining?”

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We’re called to be different! But when it comes to how we respond to circumstances, tests, trials, or the state of our nation, economy or politics … are you whining or shining?

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 17 & 18
Psalm 106.32-39
Proverbs 25.11-12
2 Corinthians 5.1-21

Isaiah 17 & 18:

A remnant … whining or shining?

In these chapters God through the prophet continues to warn of coming judgments, but reminds them there will always be a faithful remnant (18.6).

As we see what’s happening here in our nation, we cannot give up or lose hope. We must realize that is our calling—to be part of His faithful remnant. We are to be salt and light.

Philippians 2.14-15 says we are to:

“Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom [we] shine as lights in the world” (emp. added).

How’s your light? Is it bright and clear? Is it dim and hidden by junk (sin or the cares of this world)? Or do you just whine and complain like everyone else? Continue reading

September 12 “Good doctrine matters!”

truth, torn paper

Good doctrine matters because what we believe about God, His sovereignty, and His dealings with those He loves determines how we’ll respond to the tests and trials of life.

Today’s Readings:
Isaiah 15 & 16
Psalm 106.24-31
Proverbs 25.8-10
2 Corinthians 4.1-18

Isaiah 15 & 16:

Judgment against gentile nations

Isaiah not only warned God’s people of coming judgment, but he also warned of His judgment against other nations.

Moab was a nation that descended from Abraham’s nephew Lot through incest with his daughter. This prophecy warned of the destruction of their land and resources, as well as, coming military defeat.

more, greed, discontentPsalm 106.24-31:

Despising God’s blessings

Verses 24-25, “Then they despised the pleasant land; they did not believe His word, but complained in their tents …”

These verses contrast believing God’s word with a lack of contentment (they despised the pleasant land—God’s blessing) and complaining. We’re faced with the same choice. Are we going to be thankful or discontent? Are we going to trust God and enjoy His blessings or are we going to be constantly wanting more? Continue reading

August 18 “To spank or not to spank”

angry childTo spank or not to spank? What is your source of truth? That’s been the question since Genesis 3. In this case, what is your source of truth concerning child discipline?

Today’s Readings:
Job 27 & 28
Psalm 97.1-6
Proverbs 23.13-14
Romans 16.1-27

 

 

 

Job 27 & 28:

The secret things belong to the LORD

In chapter 28 Job talks about the precious things in life which men will work so hard to dig out of the earth—gold, silver, precious stones. Then in verse 12 he says:

“But where can wisdom be found? And where is the place of understanding?”

The Bible teaches that the wisdom of God—that is—that measure of wisdom which He gives to men and women must be dug out, too. But there is a wisdom that remains with God.

Verse 13, “Man does not know its value, nor is it found in the land of the living.”

 

Deuteronomy 29.29 says:

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.”

God doesn’t always see fit to explain everything He does to us! There are things and truths and reasons which we will not know until we get to heaven, if then. But there are things that we can understand and those things are revealed to us through His Word.

Read the Bible in a YearIt’s our responsibility to read and study the Word and seek to understand. It is the Holy Spirit’s responsibility to illumine our hearts. So if you struggle to understand something pray and ask Him to open your eyes that you might see wondrous things from His law (Ps. 119.18).

But in the end, if there is something going on in your life that you fail to understand, trust Him and remember that the secret things belong to the Lord. Continue reading

April 14 “Responding to anxiety”

What’s going on in your heart and mind? Is it peace and trust? Or is it worry and anxiety? How should we respond when anxiety threatens to have its way?

anxiety

Today’s Readings:
Joshua 17 & 18
Psalm 45.6-17
Proverbs 14.6
Luke 12.1-31

Joshua 17 & 18:

Worry leads to complaining

Solomon said, “… there is nothing new under the sun” (Eccl. 1.9). In 17.16-18 the descendants of Joseph were worried and that worry led to complaining. They complained they had not been given enough land and that the Canaanites, who lived there, were too great for them.

But Joshua reminded them of God’s promises and told them to clear the wooded land they had been given and drive out the inhabitants.

We, too, need to fully use the resources God has given us instead of complaining that He doesn’t give us more. And as we’ll see in our New Testament reading, we need to change our thinking about God and our circumstances. Continue reading