By His Grace

Posts Tagged ‘Religion & Spirituality

God created us to be emotional, feeling human beings.  Managing our emotions is an important skill-set for anyone in ministry who wants to help others deal with life situations and life circumstances.  I know from personal experience that it is very difficult for me to learn from someone who may be strong in their knowledge of the Word but in their emotional life they are a wreck. 

It is equally important for our own personal peace and happiness to get a handle on our emotions.  As Christian believers, our emotions play a major part of being “in His image”. Jesus was emotionally expressive during His ministry and portrayed a life of self-control, and situational discernment.  He experienced anger, sadness, grief, excitement, joy, love and even experienced feelings of abandonment. 

Our feelings are ever changing. They seem to fluctuate with no apparent reason. We can go to bed feeling good about our day and in good spirits, and the next morning wake up irritable and tired. We often ask ourselves, “Why am I feeling this way?”. It can be very frustrating and confusing. The good news is we can learn how to manage our emotions instead of our emotions managing us.

It’s important to know that even though we feel bad, we can still choose to do what is right.  Our feelings are neither good nor evil.   Our feelings can not always be trusted though and they are usually unreliable.  We are to follow wisdom not our feelings.  The Holy Spirit will convict our hearts to follow wisdom instead of our emotions.  For example, something may feel (emotion) right but we know (wisdom) it to be wrong.  Paul explains his own struggles with sin in Romans chapter 7 and I believe He is not only telling us of the sin within us but also the emotions and feelings that go along with this struggle.  We know what’s right but sinning would feel good or feel more comfortable than doing what is right.  Paul also tells us in Romans 8:5-8 that if we have the Spirit of Christ living within us that we are to be controlled by the Holy Spirit, not our old nature.

“Those who let themselves be controlled by their lower natures live only to please themselves, but those who follow after the Holy Spirit find themselves doing those things that please God.” (8:5 LTB)

My emotions and feelings have run amok as an adult and although I have definitely “grown up” and matured in the last couple years, I still have much more work to do in this area. Just about my entire adult life has been consumed with drugs and alcohol. I have heard that my emotional maturity stopped at the age of 18, which is when I started drinking and using on a daily basis.  I have also heard that our emotional maturity ceases to grow at the onset of abuse and neglect. Any form of abuse, addiction or trauma greatly affects where we stand in our emotional lives. 

I want to explore the Christian’s emotional life deeper and will be writing more posts on our feelings and how we can learn to do better in this area of our lives.  We should do our best to model the emotional life of Jesus and I will be exploring more of how He managed His emotions when He walked on this earth.  It is my hope that I can help you learn some practical ways to manage your emotions and we can mature together in how we handle our feelings on a daily basis.  The transforming power of the Holy Spirit will help us heal our emotions from past hurts and with His help we can learn to develop a stable emotional life.  As followers of Christ I believe it is our responsibility to develop and mature our emotional lives to a level that is pleasing to God and in return it will enable us to live a life of peace, joy and a sense of contentment no matter what is going on around us.

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I recently read a book written by Robert J. Wicks, “Prayerfulness, Awakening To The Fullness Of Life”.  He makes a list of ways we can mature spiritually and how to appreciate each day if we put these into practice in our daily lives.  I wanted to share them with you as they are exactly the things I want to achieve in my own life.

~  gain a clear awareness of what you are experiencing, thinking, or feeling without judging yourself or others;

~  develop a sense of intrigue about yourself and others without projection (blaming others), self-condemnation, discouragement, or expectations;

~  gain more interest in discovering the presence of grace—namely the wonderful gifts of God—rather than merely focusing on your own accomplishments;

~  gain an appeciation of being in the now and willingness to return to the present when you are drawn into the past or begin to be preoccupied by the future;

~  develop a spirit of “unlearning” and a willingness to see life differently that is inspired by the Lord’s call to “make all things new”;

~  gain a non ego-centered approach to life that recognizes it isn’t all about me;

~  gain a willingness to recognize, embrace, and flow with change;

~  gain a spirit of receiving life as it is without reaction or rejection;

~  develop a gratitude and an openness to being nourished by God in everyday life;

~  gain a focus on those activities that create well-being instead of suffering for others…and ourselves;

~  gain an appreciation of the beauty of patience and enjoying the process of life rather than solely looking forward to completions or successes;

~  develop an interest in letting go of the “secular training” we have received in grasping, being envious, angry, and unkind, and instead an openness to sharing without an expectation of getting anything in return, being intrigued by our responses so we can learn from them rather than responding by being defensive or self-indicating, and slowing down rather than straining toward goals (even perceived good ones);

~  gain an avoidance of comparing ourselves favorably or unfavorably with others;

~  develop a greater desire to be sensitive to how our words and actions affect others;

~  gain an openness to “spiritually touching” all of our denials, loneliness, shame, and negative feelings about ourselves with compassion, rather than running away from them;

~  allow information, negative and positive, familiar and unfamiliar, to flow to us without being obstructed or modified by our ego or fears;

~  develop an increased desire for transparency and being persons without guile in the way we live so we can help purify—rather than contaminate with our defensiveness—the spiritual atmosphere in which we and others live.

“Practicing, not just knowing about, these characteristcs results in your getting all out of the life that God gives you as a gift.  In addition, and of possibly even more importance, doing this will help you face life’s difficulties, gray periods, or sad experiences and deepen you in ways you may never have dreamed possible.  This will be a gift to those with whom you come into contact as well.”

This may seem like a long list but they are completely attainable by the transforming power of the Holy Spirit.  So let’s pray for God to work in our lives to achieve these beautiful qualities every Christian should have and to grow spiritually mature as God’s Word tells us to do (Hebrews 5:12-14).

I don’t think anything really happens by chance in my life.  I believe that God is involved with me from the biggest to the smallest detail.  I am in a constant state of awe of how God works in my life, and this is a really good place to be!  I experience joy and it is a heartfelt, in my soul, joy.  It’s a feeling that no drug could ever compete with.  I have never felt such a feeling from any substance I put in my body that can compare to what joy in the Lord feels like.  I am experiencing an overwhelming sense of contentment, that my life is finally on track, and going the course that God has wanted for me all along. 

Of course, because of my free will and terrible choices I’ve made in my past, I have had to come to this place of joy and purpose by doing it the hard way.  But that’s just me, not everyone has to go through the gutter like I did and it is my hope that anyone who reads my blog will not let it get that far.  I’ve had many a chance to turn away from a destructive lifestyle and I certainly wish that I would have sooner.  I know God certainly wanted me to but He remained faithful no matter how far “gone” I had become and I praise Him and honor His name as often as possible because of it.

This past year has been a tough year for me.  But I endured.  And I was patient.  And I cried.  And I doubted.  And I feared.  And I worried.  And I trusted.  And I remained steadfast.  And my God remained faithful and I’m still here.  I am REALLY looking forward to this new year.  This is my year.  No……..this is God’s year.  This is His.  This year I’m going to let the light of Jesus shine through me for others to see.  I want them to see what a beautiful and wonderful thing it is to have God in their life.  I want to be walking proof that the Lord can not only change you but He can COMPLETELY free you from bondage.  I don’t have to live my whole life in recovery because I have recovered.  There is a misconception in some secular recovery programs that we, as former addicts and alcoholics, will never fully recover from addiction.  We can and it is through Jesus Christ that makes this possible.  Jesus is the Way, the Truth, and the Life.  He and He alone can make us free from anything that holds us in bondage.  I am walking proof.

So nothing in my life is happening by chance.  All I have to do is keep doing the right things and be obedient to God, to keep Him first in my life and first in my thoughts.  As long as I do that, God will handle all the details.

My God is an awesome God.  He has so many magnificent attributes.  One of these is Hope.  God tells us that if we trust and believe in Him, we will overflow with hope,

May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him, so that you may overflow with hope by the power of the Holy Spirit. (Romans 15:13)

Regular, ordinary hope is when we express uncertainty, like a “keep your fingers-crossed” type of hope.  Biblical hope is different.  Biblical hope is not just desiring something good, it is a confident expectation that something good will happen in the future.  We don’t just expect it to happen, but we are confident that it will happen.  Hope is a strong confidence, not just wishful thinking.  Biblical hope looks to the promises of God, not of man. 

Have you ever met someone who seemed hopeless?  That person that keeps doing the same wrong thing over and over again, never changing, never getting better?  You say to yourself, “What can we do, they’re hopeless!?”   How is it possible to go from hopelessness to overflowing with hope?  The answer is in Romans 15:13, “….by the power of the Holy Spirit”.  If we only had one word to describe the Holy Spirit that word would be power!  All things are possible through the power of the Holy Spirit.  Jesus gave us His Spirit to strengthen us, guide us and comfort us.

But Christian hope isn’t just to help us get through this life for it extends beyond this life into eternity.  We have assurance of our salvation through Christ Jesus.  Jesus gave us His Spirit to dwell in us as an assurance of our salvation and to guide us into all Truth (John 16:13).

God is good to those who keep their hope in Him and wait with confident expectation,

“The Lord is good to those who wait hopefully and expectantly for Him, to those who seek Him.  It is good that one should hope in and wait quietly for the salvation of the Lord.” (Lamentations 3:25,26)

Hope is a type of emotional strength I can draw on when I need it. For example, if someone puts me down or criticizes me, I can draw on that emotional strength of hope to return good with evil. Without the power of the Holy Spirit I would sink into self-pity or return insult for insult. Hope gives me the strength to not give up and keep going. Hope gives me the strength to turn from temptation and not give in to the lies of the enemy.

I was one of those people who were hopeless.  From my inner core I believed there was no hope for me to get well, because no matter how many times I tried to get well, I could never stay clean and sober.  It is only by God grace and incredible mercy that I am sitting here today to tell you there is hope!!  Don’t give up, no matter what.  If you fail 1000 times, just keep trying, don’t quit on yourself.    It was that 1001 time that I finally succeeded and so can you.  My God is an awesome God.  He is a God of Hope.  He loves us beyond measure and will pull us up out of any pit we find ourselves in. 

What does it mean “to be established” in God?  Established means to make firm, stable, secure, settled, be fixed upon, steadfast.  When you are established in God, negative circumstances will no longer immobilize you.  Where there was once confusion, now there is confidence.  Fear is replaced by faith.   The Apostle Paul encourages us in Colossians 2:7 to,

“Have the roots [of your being] firmly and deeply planted [in Him, fixed and founded in Him], being continually built up in Him, becoming increasingly more confirmed and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and abounding and overflowing in it with thanksgiving.” (AMP)

Notice this verse and all the action phrases in it;  deeply planted, being continually built, becoming increasingly more, abounding in and overflowing in.  These are “doing” words.  We are instructed to be doers of the Word (James 1:22).  In order to be established in God we will have to be actively doing what the Bible tells us.  We have to:

~ Reject doubt and embrace belief.  Unbelief hinders you from receiving solutions to your problem.

God tells us that if we adhere to, trust in, and rely on Him we will enter His rest. (Hebrews 3:19) Doubt will cut us off from His blessings. The opposite of belief is doubt. The enemy loves to put doubt in our minds. If the devil can keep us doubting ourselves, doubting if it’s God’s voice we hear, doubting our inner knowing, then the devil is doing his job and he’s winning. I’m tired of letting the devil win in my life.  I’ve allowed that to happen for way too many years. It’s time to reject doubt and put our confidence in God.

~ Obey and live righteously.  The result of obedience is righteousness.  “In righteousness you shall be established…” (Isaiah 54:14)  To be established in God we have to be obedient which in turn makes us right with God.  In my pastor’s sermon yesterday he asked the congregation, “Are you right with God?”  For the first time in a long time I felt comfortable saying yes, I am right with God.

~ Look at the direction of your life.  Are you thinking of the consequences of each decision?  Do you act before you think?  Proverbs 4:26 tells us, “Ponder the path of your feet, and let all your ways be established”.  Sometimes we get caught in a difficult situation because we didn’t think first and made a decision too quickly.  Remember, today’s decisions will determine your tomorrow.

~ Be grounded in your faith.  We need to be grounded in the basic doctrines of God’s Word.  Know your Bible, know the Truth, and follow what you have been taught.

The result of being established in God is security and stability.  Oh, how I wanted to be stable and secure!  The way I had lived my life in the past was like standing on shaky ground.  Have you ever been in a fun house at your county fair?  Do you remember walking on a floor that kept moving under your feet, shifting up, down and sideways?  You would have to hold onto the railing to stabilize yourself in order to walk across it?  When I was using, that’s what my life felt like every day, every hour, every minute.  Except I didn’t use the railings to secure myself.  I would just try and make it across the moving floor all by myself.  I failed every time.  It wasn’t until I grabbed ahold of the railing, my Lord Jesus Christ, was I able to make it across that shaky floor.

I longed for stability and a sense of security, yet I wasn’t willing to give up my destructive lifestyle.  Why it took me so long to finally give it up just baffles me.  But I don’t keep my mind on that.  I can’t.  If I do, I get stuck in it and it’s not a good place to be.  I wasted so many years trying to figure out the “why”.  Forget it.  It’s of no use.  I had to ask for forgiveness and I had to forgive myself and not look back.  How can I move forward if I’m always looking back?  I can’t, so I keep my eyes on Jesus, His Truth, and doing the next right thing with a hope that I can be a positive influence in someone’s life. 

No more shaky ground.  My feet are planted and rooted in Him.  I am nowhere near where I want to be but I keep moving forward, believing in Him and His ways, rejecting doubt and being established in God.  It’s a good place to be!

 

“Commit thy works unto the LORD, and thy thoughts shall be established.” Proverbs 16:3 (KJV)

Everything we do and everything we say starts with a thought.  Our emotions and feelings are generated from an initial thought in our mind.  It is estimated that in the course of just one day we have up to 70,000 thoughts.  We have more electrical impulses in our brain generated in one day than by all the telephones in the world.  I’ve read that the energy used by the brain is enough to light a 25 watt bulb.  Isn’t that incredible?  This fact takes on a whole new meaning when we say a “a little light went off in my head”, doesn’t it? 

With the thousands of  thoughts in one day and all the energy generated from our mind, as Christians, don’t we have a responsibility to keep a sound mind and pay attention to what we are fixing our thoughts on?  I don’t think we as believers can be a positive influence to the un-saved if we don’t take control of our thought life.  I like the Amplified Bible Translation of Proverbs 16:3,

“Roll your works upon the Lord  [commit and trust them wholly to Him; He will cause your thoughts to become agreeable to His will, and]  so shall your plans be established and succeed.”

I started studying God’s Word in depth two years ago.  I struggled for understanding in those early months.  I came to realize that my thoughts and my actions were not lining up together.  I would think one way but act another.   There must be a balance—an alignment of His will with my thought life.  Otherwise, change doesn’t happen!  The result of being “out of alignment” will be confusion and frustration.  God’s Word does not produce confusion, it produces peace.  So obviously I wasn’t doing something right. 

How do we align our thoughts with His?

~~ We need to have a working knowledge of His Word.  We have to read, meditate and study the Word of God.  Knowledge is good but we must also put into practice what His Word tell us.

~~ We have to commit our daily life and all we do unto God. By committing the things we do and say to the Lord, we will find peace and joy! Colossians 3:23 tells us to work as if we are working for the Lord, as if God is our boss, not man.

~~ We have to make God first in our thought life.  I’ve made it a habit that when I open my eyes in the morning I say “Good Morning Father”.  I want Him to be my very first thought of the day. 

~~ We must pray without ceasing and be thankful in everything (1 Thess. 5:17, 18).  The Apostle Paul tells us we are to pray continually and be thankful in everything.  Having a grateful heart reminds us of how blessed we are.  Praying keeps us with an active connection with our Heavenly Father.

Obviously, we will never be able to think like God, but we can develop a Christ-like mindset.  All believers should be working toward having a mind like Christ.  After all, doesn’t the word “Christian” mean “Christ-like”?  God’s Word tells us that His thoughts are not our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8).  That means He is above our thinking.  And so He should be.  He IS God after all.   I’m talking about aligning our thoughts with His.  It’s a mindset.  It takes practice.  It is only then that we will see changes in our life.  By keeping our thoughts and actions in alignment with our Holy Father, we find the peace we’ve been searching for and we experience what true joy really is.

 

 

“I will instruct you (says the Lord) and guide you along the best pathway for your life; I will advise you and watch your progress.” Psalms 32:8 (LB)

When have you sensed God’s guidance leading you in a difficult direction? If so, what did you do?

We may be called to do something that nobody else will understand.  He may be leading us in a direction that we have never tried before.  In fact, I believe that most of the time this to be true.  Does God keep sending us back through the same situation or does He give us His loving guidance to move forward, to step out into new things?

If the only step that is clear is the next step, then just take it!  I don’t often know what the next 2, 3 or 10 steps will be.  But God will give me an inner conviction on the step that’s right in front of me.  So I take it.  That involves strong faith and trust in the God who has brought me through some very dark times.

“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be terrified; do not be discouraged, for the Lord your God will be with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9(NIV)

I think about how scary my life was at one point.  The situations I put myself in.  The near-death experiences when my body shut down.  Waking up in a locked-down mental ward in 4-point restraints and not remembering what happened the night before.  But even through all that, I don’t remember having a lot of fear.  I was full of chemical courage.  The only time I got scared was when I started getting some clarity.  And boy is clarity hitting me in the face these past two weeks!  The devil is reminding me of that chemical courage and I have had a fight on my hands.  But my Lord is pulling me through this, it’s only Him.  My history shows that I do not have the strength on my own.  The Lord is my strength!  All credit and glory goes to Him!

What are your priorities in your daily schedule?

Do you include seeking God’s guidance as one of those priorities?

I encourage you to seek God’s loving guidance on a daily basis.  Add it to your morning prayer.  Stick a note on your coffee pot or your steering wheel to remind yourself before you leave for work.  We are faithful followers of Jesus Christ, aren’t we?  With that comes a responsibility to seek Him, talk to Him, ask Him and TRUST Him.

As we seek His loving guidance, don’t forget to see His blessings in the process!


A little about me........my name is Michele and I am a born-again Christian. I was saved as a teenager and graduated from a Christian high school. I am a mother of one son who is the world to me. Despite my upbringing, later in life I fell into a life of self destruction which led me down many dark paths. I am a recovering addict and alcoholic and I have a great passion for Christ and His amazing power to heal even the worst cases. I am living proof of the miracle of God's power to change your life and way of thinking. Nothing is impossible with God.

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