My blog has moved!

You will be automatically redirected to the new address. If that does not occur, visit
and update your bookmarks.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Session 2: Emotions (Purity DNOW)

For your viewing I have decided to post the two sessions I taught over this weekend. These were powerful words from the Lord and I hope he used them to impact some lives.
Grace and Peace

I have been played the fool; I have got caught up in my emotions and paid the price.

My junior year of college, I began talking to this girl over Facebook (while we were on Christmas break) and we had agreed to go out. She said all of the right things for me at the time when I was emotionally distraught about my overall experiences with relationships in general. In my “need” to have an emotional connection with a female, I gave myself over to the emotional roller coaster of pain. We only dated for like a month (mostly long distance) and it was during that time that she decided to cheat on me with another friend of hers. I did not believe it at first, even though my good friend Thomas told me that it was the case, and I even went to her defense. My emotional connection with this girl was terrible and wretched but yet I did not want to detach it.

Well, she did detach it; it left me reeling for months.

Emotions have the power to make you do stupid things if they are leading the charge. Here I was thinking this much younger freshmen girl who just graduated from high school was going to be mature enough to have an adult relationship. Why would I ever think that? Especially, after dealing with a similar girl, freshmen year?

It is because my uncontrolled emotions did not leave room for thinking.

There is a story in Scripture that illustrates this well; take a look at the Book of Judges Ch. 11:

Jdg 11:28 But the king of the Ammonites did not listen to the words of Jephthah that he sent to him.
Jdg 11:29 Then the Spirit of the LORD was upon Jephthah, and he passed through Gilead and Manasseh and passed on to Mizpah of Gilead, and from Mizpah of Gilead he passed on to the Ammonites.
Jdg 11:30 And Jephthah made a vow to the LORD and said, "If you will give the Ammonites into my hand,
Jdg 11:31 then whatever comes out from the doors of my house to meet me when I return in peace from the Ammonites shall be the LORD's, and I will offer it up for a burnt offering."
Jdg 11:32 So Jephthah crossed over to the Ammonites to fight against them, and the LORD gave them into his hand.
Jdg 11:33 And he struck them from Aroer to the neighborhood of Minnith, twenty cities, and as far as Abel-keramim, with a great blow. So the Ammonites were subdued before the people of Israel.
Jdg 11:34 Then Jephthah came to his home at Mizpah. And behold, his daughter came out to meet him with tambourines and with dances. She was his only child; besides her he had neither son nor daughter.
Jdg 11:35 And as soon as he saw her, he tore his clothes and said, "Alas, my daughter! You have brought me very low, and you have become the cause of great trouble to me. For I have opened my mouth to the LORD, and I cannot take back my vow."
Jdg 11:36 And she said to him, "My father, you have opened your mouth to the LORD; do to me according to what has gone out of your mouth, now that the LORD has avenged you on your enemies, on the Ammonites."
Jdg 11:37 So she said to her father, "Let this thing be done for me: leave me alone two months, that I may go up and down on the mountains and weep for my virginity, I and my companions."
Jdg 11:38 So he said, "Go." Then he sent her away for two months, and she departed, she and her companions, and wept for her virginity on the mountains.
Jdg 11:39 And at the end of two months, she returned to her father, who did with her according to his vow that he had made. She had never known a man, and it became a custom in Israel
Jdg 11:40 that the daughters of Israel went year by year to lament the daughter of Jephthah the Gileadite four days in the year. (ESV)

The king of the Ammonites did not heed the speech Jephthah gave in the preceding verses, so what does he do? Caught up in the heat of the moment, Jephthah makes a vow of sacrifice to the Lord; he will give whatever comes out his house (thinking livestock) to greet him. Now, this seems to be, on the surface, a courageous and honorable thing. But look who comes out of the house first: his daughter. Jephthah is torn with grief, but what can he do? He made a vow he had to keep. Now, we are not told exactly what happened to his daughter but we do know that she requested time to lament her virginity. She would not have a husband or a family; the ultimate shame for a woman of her time.

Solomon, perhaps thinking about this story, later writes:

Ecc 5:4 When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.
Ecc 5:5 It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay. (ESV)
In other words, don’t be a fool and make a vow to God in the heat of the moment you cannot pay. God will expect you to pay it.

Jesus expounded a similar concept in Luke 14:26-33:

Luk 14:26 "If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:27 Whoever does not bear his own cross and come after me cannot be my disciple.
Luk 14:28 For which of you, desiring to build a tower, does not first sit down and count the cost, whether he has enough to complete it?
Luk 14:29 Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who see it begin to mock him,
Luk 14:30 saying, 'This man began to build and was not able to finish.'
Luk 14:31 Or what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
Luk 14:32 And if not, while the other is yet a great way off, he sends a delegation and asks for terms of peace.
Luk 14:33 So therefore, any one of you who does not renounce all that he has cannot be my disciple. (ESV)

Jesus’ point: Don’t commit to something without giving it careful weight and consideration.

Here is something that may make you a bit nervous, but I still want you to think about this: Did you become a Christian because you received the truth, weighed it by counting the cost, and then decided to embrace the cost and follow Christ? Or was your conversion more of an emotional response toward a message or a song that was played during an invitation? My point is not to make you doubt your salvation; my point is that if your coming to God was entirely motivated by temporary emotion and not by an eternal decision and choice; you may want to consider whether or not you are saved, especially if there is no desire for God and love for people in your life.

Don’t play around with your emotions or you may get burned.

Your book puts it this way:

“Emotions are powerful motivators, but poor engines.”

Emotions are not evil and it is not wrong to have an emotional response; in fact, if you read the Psalms they are filled with really emotional prayers and petitions to God. Sometimes they convey pleasant, joyful emotions, other times sad and despairing emotions, and still other times angry and bitter emotions. The point is that following Christ requires emotions, but those emotions cannot be what lead us.

The world says, “Oh, just follow your heart and do what it what it tells you to do, as long as you don’t hurt anyone else.” This is living being dragged around by your emotions.

But what does the Scripture say?

Pro 14:12 There is a way that seems right to a man, but its end is the way to death. (ESV) – This is repeated in Proverbs 16:25

Jer 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it? (ESV)

Mar 7:21 For from within, out of the heart of man, come evil thoughts, sexual immorality, theft, murder, adultery,
Mar 7:22 coveting, wickedness, deceit, sensuality, envy, slander, pride, foolishness.
Mar 7:23 All these evil things come from within, and they defile a person." (ESV)

Basically, it comes down to the epitaph of Israel at the end of Judges:

Jdg 21:25 In those days there was no king in Israel. Everyone did what was right in his own eyes. (ESV)

Most people see the lament in the verse and it is a truly sad verse, but there is also a promise or at least the hope of a promise…

What if there was a king in Israel?

What kind of difference would that make?

As Stephen put it before he was martyred in Acts 7:39,

Our fathers refused to obey him [Moses and by association God], but thrust him aside, and in their hearts they turned to Egypt, (ESV)

The king that Israel (and that all mankind) has rejected is God; he desires to rule over our lives including our emotions and every time we reject his rule, we set our hearts on Egypt where only chains and slavery await us.

Here is where it hits home for us:

What if there was a king over our lives? What if we did not have to live by our emotions?

What kind of difference would that make for us?

2Co 4:6 For God, who said, "Let light shine out of darkness," has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ. (ESV)

Eph 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, (ESV)

Col 3:15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. (ESV)
Col 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. (ESV)

1Pe 3:15 but in your hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you; yet do it with gentleness and respect, (ESV)
Just hitting the highlights from some of these verses, our emotions become powerful tools and sacrifices to glorify the Father. We will have “the knowledge of the glory of God,” we will “know what is the hope to which he has called [us],” the “peace of Christ [will] rule in [our] hearts,” “the word of Christ [will] dwell in [us] richly with thankfulness in [our] hearts to God,” and we will “in [our] hearts honor Christ the Lord as holy, always being prepared to make a defense to anyone who asks [us] for the reason for the hope that is in [us].”

When turn over our hearts to God; our emotions become conduits for God’s love and holiness to run through and it overflows into the lives of those around us.

But what is the key to having Christ reign over our emotions?

Psa 37:4 Delight yourself in the LORD, and he will give you the desires of your heart. (ESV)

God is not against desires; he created strong, powerful desires for his glory! But he is against the desires of the heart that are not completely satisfied in who he is and what he has done on its behalf. The verse gives the command to make a decision to delight in the Lord. This seems to be contrary to how we work as human beings because most of our feelings are reactive instead of proactive. God does not want us to be ruled by our feelings, so he tells us to delight in him by a conscious choice of the will.

How do we do this?

We chose joy, which is the only lasting form of happiness; joy is a deep contentment in the Lord and it is not seeking circumstantial happiness. Anytime we subject how we think and live to our feelings, we are headed for disaster because our feelings change with the weather. Instead, we have to decide that everything that makes life enjoyable and worth living is found only in Jesus Christ. We must decide that he is one the only one who can make us happy.

This frees us from the emotional bondage of always having to live in “pink-fluffy-cloud land,” and allows us to have genuine emotions toward God without fearing that we are committing idolatry or that our desires our getting in the way.

So, what happens when we make this choice?

God gives us the desires of our hearts. Why? Because our desires have been radically changed; they are now his desires because we have chosen to delight in him! We no longer have to worry about whether our motives are wrong or if the emotions we are feeling are wrong when we decide to place God as the center of our lives. As “Christian-hedonist” and pastor John Piper writes:

God is most glorified in us when we are most satisfied in him.

Let me just make a clarification and then I wrap up and we will break off for discussion:

Jesus had something really powerful to say about our affections toward God,

Rev 3:15 "'I know your works: you are neither cold nor hot. Would that you were either cold or hot!
Rev 3:16 So, because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. (ESV )

While Jesus is referring to works in this passage, works come from our hearts; they are the byproduct of the transformation of our hearts by the Holy Spirit through the hearing and believing of the Gospel. So, he is talking about emotional responses to our commitments to do the Gospel. Commitments push our emotions on even when we don’t feel like it. There is something we need to learn from these verses.

1) God knows our hearts and how we really feel about him.
2) God is ok with us if our emotions toward him are cold or hot.
3) It makes God sick when our emotions toward him are lukewarm.
4) If we are lukewarm, God will literally “spew” us out.

Remember what I said earlier about emotional responses in the Psalms? Well, God is ok with our emotions when our hearts are set on him. We are not always going to have pleasant feelings toward God. There have been many times recently where I have had some really angry moments of conversation with God. There have been days where God and I were just not on good terms. God can handle that, you know why? Because these are our responses toward him and it show that we care about the relationship; even when it is painful.

But if you have no emotional response toward God whatsoever; something is wrong. Something is very wrong. Mind you, there will be days that your emotions will be half-hearted and you will need to remember what the Scriptures say about God’s love for you. However, if you have no desire at all or if you are complacent and comfortable with your relationship with God, you need to get that straight.

Again, this is not meant to make you doubt your salvation; it is meant for you to be pursuing God with all of your heart, mind, and strength.

Here is the takeaway:

- Emotions, when not under control can play havoc with your life and leave you with consequences that you will have to live with.

- Emotions, in of themselves, are not bad. However, you cannot trust your emotions by themselves because our hearts are corrupted by sin; emotions can push you, but they cannot lead you.

- Emotions, when submitted to God, are conduits for the love and blessings of God to overflow out of your life into the lives of others.

- Emotions, if they are to be pure, must be submitted to a desire for and contentment to God as he is and what he has done in our lives.

- Emotions are necessary for a relationship with God and if we have not desire for God and for what God reveals to us in the Scriptures, then we need to take care of that immediately.

Ok, here are some questions to think about:

- What things have I done in my life that were inspired by out of control emotions? What consequences did they bring?

- What choices are I making now that could be being led by my emotions? What could happen if I make those choices based on my emotions?

- When was the last time I felt anything toward God? Do I feel anything toward God now; why not?

- Am I willing to delight myself only in the Lord and in his provision for me, even if that means that I don’t get what I want?



Post a Comment

Subscribe to Post Comments [Atom]

<< Home