Understanding Emotions Biblically

“Human anger does not produce the righteousness God desires.” James 1:20

Anger often is an easier emotion to express than deeper emotions like grief, loneliness, fear.

“Godly grief produces a repentance not to be regretted and leading to salvation.”
2 Corinthians 7:10

Examine yourself in times of anger. Is it truly anger you’re experiencing or is there something deeper beneath the surface that anger is simply masking? Ask God to search your heart and show you what further emotions He may be trying to stir in you to bring you to repentance.

“Blessed are those who are poor and realize their need for Him, for the kingdom of Heaven is theirs.” Matthew 5:3

Repentance begins with the realization and humility to say to God, “I need you.”

It is difficult to mourn and grieve because it makes us feel weak. But Jesus says, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they will receive comfort” (Matthew 5:4). If you are too prideful to admit grief and mourn, you will miss out on God’s blessing of comfort (see also 2 Corinthians 1:3-7).

“Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be satisfied.”
Matthew 5:6

Those controlled by their anger are always hungry, always searching.
Satisfaction is only found in the pursuit of righteousness which cannot be found outside of God.
Hungering and thirsting for righteousness is evidenced in personal obedience. We are to hunger and thirst for righteousness but ultimately trust the Lord with Him timing and justice, not trying to take matters into our own hands.

“Don’t worry about the wicked or envy those who do wrong. For like grass they soon fade away. Like spring flowers they soon wither. Trust in the Lord and do good. Then you will safely in the land and prosper.
Be still in the presence of the Lordand wait patiently for him to act. Don’t worry about evil people who prosper or fret about their wicked schemes.” Psalm 37:1-3, 7

“Understand this, my dear brothers and sisters: You must all be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry.”
James 1:19

Satisfied

The Lord has placed on my heart the goal of summing up each month with one word of something He has been building into my life.

Some of you know, some of you don’t, I just starting a year-long internship commitment at a residential women’s ministry treatment center that helps women struggling with life-dominating sins through biblical counseling. If you’re interested in learning more about this ministry, please check out their website! And feel free to ask me any questions you may have! https://www.faithlafayette.org/voh
God has really burdened my heart with the desire to do biblical counseling–informally and formally! There are so many hurting people in the world today. The world’s main problem all boils down to one thing: sin. That is why I love biblical counseling–because it offers the one true solution: Jesus.

So anyways…..
I want to really make the most of my time here and be intentional about what God is teaching me. So at least over the next year of this internship, I will be writing a monthly summary of what God has been teaching me.

My one word summary for the month of July is this: Satisfied.

This month has been a journey so far. All my life up to this point has been go go go! Previously, I’ve always either been doing school full time or working full time, or both! And on top of that I often have many other activities I’m involved in–piano, volleyball, art, church, relationships with family and friends. I’m just always doing something! But moving to Vision of Hope, it kind of feels like God has slammed the breaks on the highway that I’ve been driving 80 miles per hour! No more active involvement with some of the music/sport/art commitments I had. I’ve moved away from my tight-knit community of friends and family I spent so much time with. Now all I have is 4-5 eight hour shifts a week of leading girls through a schedule that sometimes involves basically sitting and supervising them.  

It’s been a good wake-up call. Is it extremely difficult for me to slow down? Yes!! But is it good for me? Of course! Otherwise God wouldn’t have given me this trial! He knows best!

It is good for me that I was afflicted, that I might learn your statutes.” Psalm 119:71, ESV

Two of the main passages of Scripture I’ve been meditating on this month that have contributed to this theme are Psalm 23  (topic my new ABF class is on) and 63 (my sister asked me to memorize with her!).

“The LORD is my Shepherd; there is nothing I lack.” Psalm 23:1, HCSB
I love this translation. The NLT says, “I have all I need.” Both these express the satisfaction that the Lord provides us through His character.

“You satisfy me as with rich food. My mouth will praise you with joyful lips.”
Psalm 63:5, HCSB

Over, over and over the Bible proclaims the satisfaction that is found in the Lord.

“But I will see Your face in righteousness; when I awake, I will be satisfied with Your presence.” Psalm 17:15, HCSB

“Satisfy us in the morning with your steadfast love, that we may rejoice and be glad all our days.” Psalm 90:14, ESV

“For he satisfies the longing soul, and the hungry soul he fills with good things.” Psalm 107:9, ESV

“Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content. I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.” Philippians 4:11-12, ESV

The key to satisfaction is the presence of God.

“Even when I walk through the darkest valley, I will not be afraid, for you are close beside me. Your rod and your staff protect and comfort me.” Psalm 23:4, NLT

Satisfaction is found even in the darkest valley because God is present with us.

God has exposed many idols in the past month–specifically pride, self-sufficiency, control, comfort, and experiences (though I’m sure there’s more). But most of all, He is reminding me of His all-satisfying presence. There is no one like Him. Nothing else will satisfy me as He does.

Do I sometimes wish I had more to do–another part time job or schooling, a larger community of friendships developed here, more involvement at church? Yes. But I trust God’s plan. I know He knows exactly how much I can handle. He will reveal to me in His timing what else He calls me to and for now, it is okay to have time to breathe and just rejoice and worship Him in His presence.

This verse could sum up my daily life these days,
“Instead, I have calmed and quieted myself, like a weaned child who no longer cries for its mother’s milk. Yes, like a weaned child is my soul within me. O Israel, put your hope in the Lord—now and always.” Psalm 131:2-3, NLT

The Lord has quieted my soul, satisfied me by His presence, and grown my trust in Him.

Living in the Light

“This is the message we heard from Jesus and now declare to you: God is light, and there is no darkness in him at all. So we are lying if we say we have fellowship with God but go on living in spiritual darkness; we are not practicing the truth. But if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin.” 1 John  1:5-7, NLT

What does it mean to live in the light?
God is light (v. 5). Therefore, living in the light = living in God
This is the same concept but in a different analogy that Jesus was describing in John 15.

“Remain in me, and I will remain in you. For a branch cannot produce fruit if it is severed from the vine, and you cannot be fruitful unless you remain in me. Yes, I am the vine; you are the branches. Those who remain in me, and I in them, will produce much fruit. For apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:4-5, NLT

The main idea is that fellowship with God comes from living in Him.

But, how do guilty, wretched sinners abide in a holy God?
The answer is in 1 John 1:7. The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all sin, allowing us to live in God. See also Romans 3:25, 5:9; Ephesians 1:7; Hebrews 10:19-22.

Many places in the Bible refer to God as light and sin as darkness. This is a common theme particularly in 1 John. Another excellent example of light and darkness contrasted is in the Gospel of John:

“And the judgment is based on this fact: God’s light came into the world, but people loved the darkness more than the light, for their actions were evil. All who do evil hate the light and refuse to go near it for fear their sins will be exposed. But those who do what is right come to the light so others can see that they are doing what God wants.” John 3:19-21, NLT

This passage sheds some light to how we practically live in the light.
Living in the light = willingness for my sin to be exposed
The question is not whether we will sin or not; it is the attitude toward the exposure of sin.
A good question to help discern whether you are walking in the light is,
How frequently are you admitting sin? Are you willing to ask those who know you well what sin they see in your life?
If you are not daily admitting and repenting of sin, you will not have fellowship with God or others. Relationships will be strained. There will be loads of conflict. All of this is rooted in pride.

If we claim we have no sin, we are only fooling ourselves and not living in the truth. But if we confess our sins to him, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness. If we claim we have not sinned, we are calling God a liar and showing that his word has no place in our hearts.” 1 John 1:8-10, NLT

To sum all this up,

Two blessings and evidences that we are living in the light are…
1) Fellowship with God–because we have been cleansed from all sin
2) Fellowship with other believers

Living in the light = being willing to have sin exposed

Are you living in the light?

Trust and Obey!

After finishing my study of Nehemiah, I’ve begun reading through Hosea. This morning I read chapter 5 and this verse stuck out to me.

They have betrayed the honor of the Lord, bearing children that are not his. Now their false religion will devour them along with their wealth.” Hosea 5:7, NLT

Israel betrayed the honor of the Lord. She was determined to worship idols rather than the Lord their God. Because of their idolatry, their hearts will be broken, crushed, and judged (Hosea 5:11).

When we try to build our own kingdom apart from God, when we think we have the best plan for our lives, we are headed for destruction. When we try to do things apart from God, we do not come up with the outcome He desired and designed for us–bearing children that are not his.

The first example of this that popped into my mind was Abram and Sarai. There’s at least two instances in Genesis where they made their own plan rather than trusting God’s promises. The first instance is in Genesis 12:10-20 where Abram tells Sarai to lie by saying that she is Abram’s sister, not wife, because Abram thought the Egyptians would kill him otherwise so they could take Sarai as their wife (an almost identical scenario takes place in Genesis 20 when they moved to Gerar). As a result of this lie and mistrust of God, Pharaoh orders Abram and Sarai out of the country. The second instance I thought of when Abram did not have faith in God’s plan was how he would have descendants as numerous as the sand on the seashore. He thought, “How could God make this happen if Sarai is barren?” Sarai proposed to Abram that he sleep with her Egyptian servant, Hagar. Abram agreed to this arrangement and Hagar bore a son. This was not Isaac, the son of promise whom God would bless the nations through, however. In fact, Hagar’s son, Ishmael, caused troubled to Isaac and the Israelites.

God was not out of control or needing Abram to take action to make His promises fulfilled. God’s promises will never fail. We must trust Him because His plan will bring the best outcome that will most glorify Him if we simply trust and obey!

“For you have been born again, but not to a life that will quickly end. Your new life will last forever because it comes from the eternal, living word of God. As the Scriptures say, “People are like grass; their beauty is like a flower in the field. The grass withers and the flower fades. But the word of the Lord remains forever.” And that word is the Good News that was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:23-25, NLT

Nehemiah 13

We made it! All by God’s grace! It has been a good challenge and accountability to myself to wake up everyday and dive into Nehemiah and search for what there is to learn about God and how that applies to our lives. Thank you for reading along with me. I pray this series of posts on Nehemiah God somehow uses to encourage you in your spiritual growth!

So you read Nehemiah 13, right? If not, do it now!

The main thing going on in Nehemiah 13 is Nehemiah confronting the Israelites on three ways they have sinned against God.

  1. Neglect of the Temple of God (v 10-14)
  2. Working on the Sabbath (v 15-22)
  3. Intermarrying with pagan people (v 23-31)

Reading this chapter shows how serious God (and Nehemiah empowered by God) takes sin. Verse 25 says that Nehemiah called down curses on them, beat them, and pulled their hair out! He banished one of the high priest’s sons who married Sanballat’s daughter! The issue was not just personal preference. Nehemiah had this righteous anger because the people were breaking God’s law after just vowing to do everything God commanded of them! This shows how we are all very desperately wicked and want to indulge in our heart’s passions and desires. Indulging in our sinful passions, however, is a primary reason we have so much conflict!
What is causing the quarrels and fights among you? Don’t they come from the evil desires at war within you? You want what you don’t have, so you scheme and kill to get it. You are jealous of what others have, but you can’t get it, so you fight and wage war to take it away from them. Yet you don’t have what you want because you don’t ask God for it. And even when you ask, you don’t get it because your motives are all wrong—you want only what will give you pleasure. You adulterers! Don’t you realize that friendship with the world makes you an enemy of God? I say it again: If you want to be a friend of the world, you make yourself an enemy of God.” James 4:1-4, NLT

Sin is not something to be treated lightly. It must be confronted. We must rebuke and restore fellow believers living in sin!

Honestly evaluate yourself. Go before God and ask Him to search your heart and show you the sinful desires that are controlling you. Repent of these things! Read the Bible so that you know the way God desires you to live. He does not give commands strictly because He wants us to obey Him whatever He says (although that is true and important!) But it is also truly wise to obey His commandments. After all, He is your Creator. He is the only one who understands all hearts (Jeremiah 17:9-10). Surrender your desires to Him and ask Him to give you the desire and power to please Him (Philippians 2:13)!

“Search me, O God, and know my heart; test me and know my anxious thoughts. Point out anything in me that offends you, and lead me along the path of everlasting life.” Psalm 139:23-24, NLT

Nehemiah 12

Nehemiah 12!! I don’t have to even tell you to go read it at this point, right? Make sure you do 😉

The first half of this chapter is a record of all the priests. This was very important. These priests were appointed and anointed by God. They were set apart for the Lord’s special work. They were called to holiness, just as we are. God says we are now His holy priests. Through the mediation of Jesus Christ, we offer sacrifices that please God (1 Peter 2:5). The sacrifice God desires from us is our very life.
“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him.” Romans 12:1, NLT

The second half of Nehemiah 12 is the dedication of Jerusalem’s walls. Everything exists by God’s power and is intended for His glory (Romans 11:36). If God had not given strength to the Israelites to rebuild the wall, it would not have gotten done. God desires that we attribute all glory to Him. It is a terrible thing to wrongly accept glory that belongs to Him! Want to see an example of how seriously God takes His glory being given to Him? Check out Acts 12:22-23! Then see Acts 14:11-20 for Paul and Barnabas’ example of rightly re-attributing God with His glory! If you want to boast, boast only about the Lord (1 Corinthians 1:30-31)!
Anyways…the Israelites dedicated Jerusalem’s walls to God through great singing and dancing. God was their source of sweet joy.
What is your source of joy?

There is a multitude of Psalms exhorting us to praise the Lord (Psalm 26:6-7, 12; 96; 98:1-2; 105:1; 109:30; 150-just to name a few!). It is possible that Psalm 147 was written for the occasion of praise recorded in Nehemiah 12. It is definitely an excellent one to read!
I encourage you to read some of these Psalms and then take time for yourself to praise the Lord. You can sing a song of praise with singing, instrument, dance. You could even write out your own Psalm of praise to God! Be creative! Praise the Lord!

Let everything that breathes sing praises to the Lord! Praise the Lord!” Psalm 150:6

Nehemiah 11

Wow we’re nearing the close of Nehemiah! Nehemiah 11 today! Did you read it? Go read it!

Nehemiah 11 is a record of all the people and where they returned to. Because God had allowed them to rebuild Jerusalem, they were finally able to return and resettle their beloved holy city of Jerusalem.

Now this Jerusalem was glorious, but it too will fade away.

Since everything around us is going to be destroyed like this, what holy and godly lives you should live, looking forward to the day of God and hurrying it along. On that day, he will set the heavens on fire, and the elements will melt away in the flames. But we are looking forward to the new heavens and new earth he has promised, a world filled with God’s righteousness.” 2 Peter 3:11-13, NLT

But the wonderful news is a new Jerusalem awaits! Someday everything will be destroyed. But then, God will make all things new!

I strongly urge you to read Revelation 21 and 22. It is very beautiful and exciting for us who are believers! Here, I’ll give you a sneak peak to wet your appetite 😉

“Then I saw a new heaven and a new earth, for the old heaven and the old earth had disappeared. And the sea was also gone. And I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven like a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. I heard a loud shout from the throne, saying, “Look, God’s home is now among his people! He will live with them, and they will be his people. God himself will be with them. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there will be no more death or sorrow or crying or pain. All these things are gone forever.” And the one sitting on the throne said, “Look, I am making everything new!” And then he said to me, “Write this down, for what I tell you is trustworthy and true.” And he also said, “It is finished! I am the Alpha and the Omega—the Beginning and the End. To all who are thirsty I will give freely from the springs of the water of life. All who are victorious will inherit all these blessings, and I will be their God, and they will be my children.” Revelation 21:1-7, NLT

God is coming soon (Revelation 22:20)! Are you ready? Are you living a righteous and holy life? If so, remain steadfast in this! If not, choose this day who you will serve! Are you satisfied living for yourself?

Nehemiah 10

Chapter 10! Did you read it? If not, go do so!

The main call of Nehemiah 10 is commitment. After the Israelites heard all of what God commanded and were convicted, they vow to obey God and keep His Law with all diligence.

The application today is pretty simple: Commit to repent and believe.

This application is for those who have never made this commitment and those who have already made the initial commitment. Even if you’ve committed at some point to follow God’s way, it takes a daily refocus and commitment. We must daily remind ourselves that at heart we are desperately wicked (Jeremiah 17:9) and all I naturally know how to do is sin (Romans 3:10). But when you commit yourselves to the Lord, He places His Spirit in you so that through His power you can obey Him!

What are you choosing today? Are you truly committed to the Lord your God alone? God does not want just part of our love and worship. He wants us wholeheartedly to serve Him (Exodus 20:3)

“Now therefore fear the Lord and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness. Put away the gods that your fathers served beyond the River and in Egypt, and serve the Lord . And if it is evil in your eyes to serve the Lord , choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell. But as for me and my house, we will serve the Lord .”
Joshua 24:14‭-‬15, ESV

“And so, dear brothers and sisters, I plead with you to give your bodies to God because of all he has done for you. Let them be a living and holy sacrifice—the kind he will find acceptable. This is truly the way to worship him. Don’t copy the behavior and customs of this world, but let God transform you into a new person by changing the way you think. Then you will learn to know God’s will for you, which is good and pleasing and perfect.”
Romans 12:1‭-‬2, NLT

“For the grace of God has been revealed, bringing salvation to all people. And we are instructed to turn from godless living and sinful pleasures. We should live in this evil world with wisdom, righteousness, and devotion to God, while we look forward with hope to that wonderful day when the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will be revealed. He gave his life to free us from every kind of sin, to cleanse us, and to make us his very own people, totally committed to doing good deeds.”
Titus 2:11‭-‬14, NLT

Nehemiah 9

Wow! What a beautiful passage of praise to the Living God! Did you take time to read Nehemiah 9 for yourself? If not, please go do so!

–The people separated themselves from the foreigners and confessed their sin (v 2). After they heard all the Lord had commanded them through the Law, the Israelites knew they needed to repent and start living set apart from the world and set apart for God. God tells us to do the same in this world today. He says we should be holy in all that we do now that we have been redeemed through Christ (1 Peter 1:14-16).
“And what union can there be between God’s temple and idols? For we are the temple of the living God. As God said: ‘I will live in them and walk among them. I will be their God, and they will be my people. Therefore, come out from among unbelievers, and separate yourselves from them, says the Lord. Don’t touch their filthy things, and I will welcome you. And I will be your Father, and you will be my sons and daughters, says the Lord Almighty.’” 2 Corinthians 6:16-18, NLT

–The rest of Nehemiah 9 is a big declaration of praise to the Living God! This is a good application step for everyone! Stop and reflect on who God is and all He has done. Think about all God has done to save you, not because you deserve it or are especially wonderful, but for the purpose of God’s glory being magnified! Need some ideas of reasons to praise God? Here’s a list from Nehemiah 9:

  • He alone is God -there is no one like Him! (v 6, Exodus 15:11, 2 Samuel 7:22)
  • He is always true to His word (v 8, Joshua 21:45, Hebrews 6:18)
  • He is forgiving, gracious, merciful, slow to become angry, rich in unfailing love (v 17)
  • He is provider (v 21)
  • He sovereignly directs suffering in our lives to teach us to cry out to Him and repent (v 26-27, Isaiah 30:20, Romans 8:28-29)

Nehemiah 8

Did you read Nehemiah 8? I hope you did! If not, go read it now!

–The Israelites asked for the Law to be read so they could know what God had commanded them to do and obey (v 1). The listened intently, eager to learn and obey (v 3). The only way to know God and His commands for your life is to read His word, the Bible. Do you have an eagerness for His word like the Israelites had? If not, pray God place a hunger for His word. The Bible truly satisfies like nothing else.

“How sweet your words taste to me; they are sweeter than honey. Your commandments give me understanding; no wonder I hate every false way of life.
Psalms 119:103‭-‬104, NLT

–The priests explained to the people the meaning of what was read (v 8). This is the act of discipleship. It involves coming alongside another and reading, explaining, and applying the Bible to daily living. God’s word is powerful and profitable for teaching, reproof, correction, and training in righteousness (2 Timothy 3:16). If you are a follower of Jesus Christ, He has commissioned you to disciple others. Who are you discipling? If you aren’t, pray about it and choose someone to invest in!

–The people wept over their sin. Then the priests and Levites told them not to weep any longer but to rejoice in God’s favor and forgiveness! There is a time to weep and repent over your sin after you read God’s word and see yourself for who you are in your sin, but then rest and rejoice for the gift of God’s forgiveness and the way He now sees you as righteous in His sight!

“Therefore, since we have been made right in God’s sight by faith, we have peace with God because of what Jesus Christ our Lord has done for us. Because of our faith, Christ has brought us into this place of undeserved privilege where we now stand, and we confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory.”
Romans 5:1‭-‬2, NLT