Emotions are real and part of being human. In fact, God created us as emotional beings. But problems result when we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions. When that happens, we can quickly end up in a ditch, spiritually and relationally.
Today we’re beginning a series on “Handling Emotions Biblically.” I hope you’ll be here over the next few weeks while we look at emotions, how they affect us, and how we can handle them God’s way.
Welcome to Mondays @ Soul Survival.
Handling Emotions Biblically: Introduction
We just wrapped up a series on God’s design for marriage. If you missed it, you can access all the lessons here. Today we’re starting a new series on how to handle emotions so we don’t allow emotions to handle us.
Over the next few weeks, I’ll be discussing:
Fear & Worry
Trials & Suffering
They’re real. They’re often powerful. They’re, also, part of being human.
God Himself is described as having emotions.
The psalmist said, “God is angry with the wicked every day” (Ps. 7.11b) and another psalm says, He laughs at His enemies (Ps. 2.4).
Genesis 6.6 says, “And the Lord was sorry that He had made man on the earth, and He was grieved in His heart.”
Numerous times we’re told God is a jealous God (Ex. 20.5; Josh. 24.10).
But He, also, has compassion on His servants (Ps. 135.14; Jud. 2.18; Deut. 32.36).
And He rejoices over His people (Zeph. 3.17).
We know that Jesus wept (Jn. 11.35) over sin and it’s results on His creation.
Isaiah said he was “a man of sorrows, and acquainted with grief” (Is. 53.3).
And Mark 6:34 says He had compassion on the multitudes who listened to Him.
That doesn’t mean God’s emotions and ours are always the same. When God expresses emotions, they are perfectly just and righteous, never sinful. He never has a bad day and He never changes His feelings toward His redeemed.
Emotions like anger and fear often come with powerful feelings. Feelings that tend to control how we treat people, how we respond to the tests and trials of life, and whether or not we obey God.
While the feelings themselves are not always sinful, if they’re not dealt with in a biblical way, they can quickly become so.
While emotions are real and often powerful, they’re lousy leaders. When we allow our emotions to control our thoughts, words, and actions, we can end up in a ditch. Continue reading →
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.
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:
6 Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; 7 and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.
8 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.
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 →
Is the Bible enough to help us live life in our complex world? Is it enough when we’re faced with difficult issues like abuse, neglect, addiction, and sickness? What does it mean when we say God’s Word is inerrant and sufficient and what does it have to do with you and the problems you face?
Also read about how God spared His servants from a fiery furnace, how He caused a prideful man to live like a brute animal, how He removes power from kings and leaders and gives it to whomever He wills, and how a fool allows his emotions to rule him.
Daniel 3 & 4
2 Peter 1.1-21
This verse tells us as much as any single verse how God used the human writers to produce the Bible. The Holy Spirit moved or bore them along. The use of the same verb in Acts 27:15 illuminates our understanding of what is meant by “bearing” or “moving” the human writers. Just before the ship that was taking Paul to Rome was wrecked on the Island of Malta, it ran into a fierce storm. Though experienced men, the sailors could not guide it, so they finally had to let the wind take the ship wherever it blew. In the same manner as that ship was driven, directed, or carried about by the wind, God directed and moved the human writers He used to produce the books of the Bible.¹
So while God used men to pen the Scriptures, it was the Holy Spirit who moved or carried them along causing them to write exactly what He desired, without error.
So is the Bible enough to teach us how to live in our complex world or do we need to add something to it?
Let’s look at verses 3-4:
“as His divine power has given to us all things that pertain to life and godliness, through the knowledge of Him who called us by glory and virtue, by which have been given to us exceedingly great and precious promises, that through these you may be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust” (vv. 3-4).
God’s Word contains everything we need for “life and godliness.” It gives us all we need to live life in a fallen world, with sin-cursed bodies, and among other sinners.
The Doctrine of the Sufficiency of Scripture
The doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture is a fundamental tenet of the Christian faith. It means that not only is God’s Word inspired and inerrant, it is also sufficient for all the issues of life. We don’t need to add man’s wisdom to it.
When Paul told us in 2 Timothy that God’s Word is God-breathed, he went on to say it is “profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work (2 Tim. 3.16-17).
But today we’re told, perhaps not in so many words, but by inference, that the Bible is not enough. Rather than looking to God’s Word for help to solve problems, overcome the past, and deal with life dominating sins, believers are often referred to psychologists and counselors who use worldly philosophies and unbiblical therapies.
Rather than calling drunkards and the sexually immoral to repentance, they are told they have a disease or they can’t help the way God made them. Victims are told that what happened to them explains all their problems, instead of helping them understand their own sinful responses, the sovereignty of God, and the freedom that comes from walking in forgiveness and grace.
Imagine your family sitting around the dinner table one night and there is a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi,” whose funeral you had attended a few years before? And imagine what it will it be like a few seconds after the Rapture of the Church? What do those two scenarios have to do with each other?
Verses 15-18 speak of what is called the Rapture of the Church.
15 For this we say to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive and remain until the coming of the Lord will by no means precede those who are asleep. 16 For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 Then we who are alive andremain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. 18 Therefore comfort one another with these words.
The word “rapture” means to be “caught up.” Paul said those who have died in Christ will rise first. So when Christ returns for His church, the bodies of believers who died previously, whose spirits are already in heaven, will be resurrected and changed. And those of us who are alive will be caught up and our bodies will be changed, as well.
There was a foretaste of this event right after Christ’s death in Matthew 27:
50 And Jesus cried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit.
51 Then, behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth quaked, and the rocks were split, 52 and the graves were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised; 53 and coming out of the graves after His resurrection, they went into the holy city and appeared to many.
So even though these resurrected believers would die again, it was a preview of what is to come in the future.
Can you just imagine what it must have been like—the family is sitting around having dinner and there’s a knock at the door … and there stands “Uncle Levi or Cousin Benjamin” who had died a few years before!
Now imagine what it will be like when the Rapture happens. The graves of the dead believers will be opened, but this time they’ll be gone, along with believers who were alive at the time of the Rapture!
I would imagine there will be more than a few family members who had rejected what their husbands and wives and mommas and brothers were telling them, who fall to their knees and cry out to God. It won’t be too late for them to be saved, but it will be too late for them to escape the Tribulation, seven years of famine, disease, earthquakes, disasters, and persecution the likes of which the world has never seen. We’ll talk more about this when we get to the book of Revelation.
Let’s pray and stand up for the truth now while there is still time for those who may listen.
Psalm 119 is the longest chapter in the Bible and is an acrostic psalm. As it was written in the original Hebrew, it contains a literary device to drive home the truths contained in it—something like what we do when we say “A is for apple; B is for ball; … or when we use an acronym to help us remember the name of an organization.
While it’s long, it contains some of the greatest truths about God and His Word, beginning with verses 1-2: Continue reading →
Blended families are everywhere. Maybe your family is a blended or step-family. If so, you know blended families face unique challenges and issues. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those individuals and all families face.
Blended Families Part 2: “The Same Only Different”
In part 1, we talked about some of the very real losses that members of step families face and the importance of examining our own attitudes, actions and desires. Understanding those losses can help us become more understanding and asking God to help us examine our own actions is vitally important and an essential first step in the process of growth and change.
Charlatans & Frauds
Matthew 7.3-4 says: 3 “And why worry about a speck in your friend’s eye when you have a log in your own? 4 How can you think of saying to your friend, ‘Let me help you get rid of that speck in your eye,’ when you can’t see past the log in your own eye?(NLT)
Jesus was very descriptive in this passage, wasn’t He? My paraphrase is, “Who do you think you are, trying to get a speck out of someone else’s eye when you can’t see past that giant log in your own?” Then He starts the next verse with the words, “You hypocrite …!” (v. 5).
Two synonyms for the word hypocrite are charlatan and fraud. The Encarta Dictionary defines it as, “somebody who pretends to have admirable principles, beliefs, or feelings but behaves otherwise.”
When we preach doing right to our family members and then respond in sinful, unloving ways, we’re playing the hypocrite! We’re frauds!
Why is this so important?
James, chapter 1: 22 But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
“Deceiving yourselves.” There is delusion, spiritual blindness, that occurs when we fail to examine our hearts and actions by looking into the mirror of God’s Word with a view to obeying it. We can respond selfishly and sinfully to others while believing we’re completely justified.
We face enough challenges in blended families, why add spiritual blindness to the list? But by looking into that mirror and being a doer of it, there is blessing.
And Hebrews 5 says: 14 But solid food is for the mature, who because of practice have their senses trained to discern good and evil.
We have the ability to discern good and evil; that is we have wisdom, when we practice doing what’s right. So the difference between removing our own logs and being a doer of the Word, as opposed to being a hearer and not a doer, is the difference between delusion and wisdom.
By the way, James, the writer of the book by the same name, was the half-brother of Jesus. There were other siblings, too (Mk. 6.3), and Joseph was His step-father. That makes Jesus part of a blended family. More about His earthly family and other blended Bible families later.
But there is something else we need to understand about being a hypocrite or a fraud. When we tell others, particularly our children and step-children, they must respond one way (loving, kind, accepting, patient, etc.) and we do something else, we’re completely discrediting ourselves and end up provoking our children to anger (Eph. 6.4; Col. 3.21). It’s hard to imagine anyone not resenting a fraud and children are no different.
Unique Yet the Same
In part 1, I stressed the fact that blended families face some unique challenges, and that’s certainly true. But while our problems may be unique in their details, the heart issues involved are much the same as those all individuals and all families face. Continue reading →