Monday, October 31, 2016

Restoring the Joy

From the Spiritual Profile - "In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ___J O Y________.

Neh. 8:1-3, 5-12 - Israel exiles back in homeland for around 100 years at this time.  Temple partially rebuilt, walls started.- been working long and hard, were exhausted, needed time off.   ie:  Sacred celebration- if you lose your joy, can lose your strength.

Psm.  51:1-3,7-12 - (followup of David's story, and his state of mind.)

"JOY" - definition, description.
Webster:  Joy - the emotion excited by the acquisition of, or expectation of good!  A feeling we get when we've experienced something good or anticipate good.

Synonyms:  delight, pleasure, happiness, gladness.  Maybe excitement, thrill.  Maybe gaiety, gladness, cheer/cheerfulness.  Maybe peace/peacefulness, tranquility, quiet contentment

1)  Mountain top joy - exhilaration, jubilation, ecstasy

2) Valley joy - ie:  joy experienced in the midst of trouble, sorrow.  Peace, serenity, quietness of the soul.  A sense of well being in spite of circumstances.

3)  Everyday joy - the pleasant sensation you get from a cool fall morning, good cup of coffee, child's smile, a friendly greeting, etc.

ADD to that with "The Joy of the Lord" - the sense of well-being that comes from:
     A)  knowledge of Him
     B)  Faith, confidence in Him
     C)  an experience or encounter with Him

Joy of the Lord supersedes ordinary joy.  Has elements of the unchanging, the absolute, the eternal, therefore is more substantial, stable, has more depth, more influence, impact.
Examples:  David fleeing Saul - wrote many of the praise songs found in Psalms   Paul in Roman prison. wrote letters to Ephesians, and other churches.  John Bunyan in Bedford jail   wrote Pilgrim's Progress.  Corrie ten-Boom - in Nazi prison camp.

So, when deprived of things generally associated with joy, comfort, satisfaction, they were OK, because they couldn't be deprived of:
    1)  their knowledge of God
    2)  their faith and confidence in God  (His Word, His promises) or
    3)  occasional experiences, encounters with Him.

Quote: - Joy of the Lord = "An inexplicable bouyancy of the heart and soul"

Use of joy in Scripture = extensive!!!
joy/ful/rejoice/enjoy/ (glad/ness) - over 600 times
Add celebrate, delight, etc. - have another 400+ times.

Psalm 100:1-5, 98:4-6   1 Thess. 5:16   Phil. 4:4

Clearly God wants His people to be joyous people!!!  We should have that hope & confidence that comes from Him.  Rom. 12:12

This "Joy of the Lord" is:
   1)  close kin to hope - in the Greek, "hope" is joyous expectation!!
   2)  one of the fruits of the Spirit - Gal. 5:22
   3)  Should have depth or transcendence    James 1:2-4   Rom. 5:3
Song - "It Is Well With My Soul" - written by Horatio Spafford - who lost all 4 daughters in a ship accident in 1873.
Song - "Now Thank We All Our God" - written by Martin Rinkart - pastor in Germany in 1600 hundreds.  In the midst of the 30 year war the plague hit - all other pastors died or fled - he was the only one left.  In 1637 presided over 4500 burials!  - wrote this hymn to teach people to praise!  This is more than superficial joy!!!  This has depth, strength, power

How did they find such joy"?
Focus on Eternal God - not temporal goods.  This is more than the joy of life = the Joy of the Lord.


#1.  the Joy of the Lord is a sense of well-being as a result of your Christian faith.
"sense" is better than "feeling" because we can feel grief, sorrow, loss, pain and still sense God's presence, comfort, promises.
There's joy often amidst mixed emotions!

#2.  The Joy of the Lord is available to all believers.  (= fruit of the Spirit, akin to hope, clearly Gods will for us!!)

I suspect we experience it more than we realize DUE to our definition of Joy!!!  WE often mean "happy" which may be God's will but it is not His priority!  Example:  your kids - is it your first priority to give them anything and everything they want so they will be happy, or is it your first priority to raise them properly, discipline when necessary, and help them grow into healthy mature people.

#3. Scripture (mostly) says "Rejoice".  (not "have joy")
Compare:  "be thankful"  vs.  "give thanks"
Note:  giving thanks often leads to thankfulness!!  So  "Rejoice" - often leads to joy
The real issue is not if we feel joyful, feel thankful, but if we give joy (rejoice), give thanks.

Nehemiah - people's loss of joy due to stress, fatigue.
                  Remedy = SACRED CELEBRATION!!!

David - loss of joy due to sin (gross sin)
            Remedy = Repent, Return

Others - loss due to busyness, lagging, drifting
            Remedy??   Psalm 37:4

Joy of marriage not found in marriage but in MATE!!
Joy of parenting (grandparenting) not found in the institution but in the CHILD!
Joy of the Lord is not found in JOY but in the Lord!!  Deut. 4:29 - seeking Him, not joy

Sometimes we are so focused on the feeling, we miss being focused on Him!!

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Guilt and Unworthiness

From the spiritual profile - "In my Christian walk I'm haunted (plagued by, continually revisited with) by feelings of guilt and unworthiness
Guilt because of repeated failures in trying to live up to His perfect example.
Unworthiness for the same reason.

Note:  Sometimes we feel guilty because we are guilty.
          Sometimes we feel unworthy (come short) because we acted in an unworthy manner.

This = right, reasonable, proper = HEALTHY GUILT

However, some people are plagued by a persistent CLOUD of guilt feelings which are NOT reasonable, proper, healthy, necessary.

I.  The State of Guilt = the fact of having done wrong.  Example:  finding out driver's license been expired for a year.  Were in fact guilty of not obeying the law for that year.

II.  The Sense of Guilt - the feeling that comes with a conscious awareness of having done wrong.  These feelings = reasonable, proper, HEALTHY, and Necessary!!   They act as warnings of things that need to be fixed.   Example:  gauges on car dash - let you know what's happening with the engine before it blows up! 

Contrast:  Quote from "Erroneous Zone" with the Biblical view:
E.Z. advocates Self on the throne and ego as guide, personal happiness as the goal of life.

Biblical View advocates Christ on the throne and the Word as a guide, the Holy Spirit as companion, and holiness as the goal of life.
Everyone gets to make these choices.

Note:  to invite Christ into your heart = to invite guilt feelings!!!  - through the Word, through the Holy Spirit.

III.  The Cloud of Guilt
1)  constant, persistent but also,
2) vague, indefinite - can't put finger on why have these guilt feelings
3) without resolution - (can't be satisfied because don't know what it is, can't name it)
4) hypersensitive - (feel guilty over minor offenses, imaginary offenses)
5)  domineering - this cloud of guilt shouts down reason and Scripture.
6)  detrimental, to the point of destructive

Detrimental because:  
deprives one of a healthy self-image
contributes to feelings of inferiority self-loathing - example:  self-cutters, self-beaters
(typically) drives person from God not to God - even Christians tend to tune away from God because of shame.
Rev. 12:10 - possible demonic influences

Need to distinguish between Position in Christ (saved by grace, kept by grace) and Performance before Christ

Your Position = chosen, called, accepted as you were then, received, cleansed, forgiven - past and future, adopted, restored, sealed, secure, valued, valuable - John 3:16

Your Performance:
On one hand, we still sin therefore still need feelings of healthy guilt
However, the design and purpose = to Benefit you!!!
2 Cor. 7:8-11  Isa. 57:15   Heb. 9:14

BUT, the Cloud has NO place in either Position OR Performance!!!
It is NOT God's will, design, work
(Origin of the cloud?  temperament?  environment?  => Rev. 12:10

So.... what to do?? 
A)  test the spirits - Holy Spirit convicts specifically   1 John 4:1
B)  hold to the good  1 Thess. 5:21-22
C)  approach the throne  - Heb. 4:14-16 - come in humility with confidence in the adoption and acceptance

Will the Cloud go away???   Don't know!!!!
THIS I do know - Gen. 4:7
1) you must 'mater it' - it shall not rule over you.  you decide who is on the throne.
2)  with God's help, you can. 
If can't master it, will not lose the love and favor and salvation of Christ.  However, to be an effective child, need to master this feeling.  It is God's will for you.


Sunday, October 16, 2016

Concerning Capability and Confidence

In recent spiritual profile taken, one statement was "In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ________" with the majority of the responses listing 'confident'/'capable'.  Not primarily confidence in God or in salvation, but in how "doing" the Christian walk.

These feelings = 1.  common (37 of 91 responses listed these)
              can be  2.  persistent
and can become  3.  disabling.
They can lead to an inferiority complex - many walk away from the faith because of these feelings.  (I can never get it right)

So, How to deal with these feelings?   Should we ignore, deny, stifle, suppress, confront, throw off? 

Pastor's answer:  MASTER - Gen. 4:7    Rom. 6:12, 14 --- "...your master."

Whether your Emotions are on the throne of your heart ruling your decisions or Christ is on the throne is YOUR decision!!!!   Who are you going to obey - perhaps can help the feelings, but you can help the response TO those feelings!

Concerning capability and confidence - we look at a Spiritual Giant:  MOSES.
His call - Ex. 3:10-11, 13, 4:1, 4:10, 4:13
These all in spite of visual (burning bush), audible (voice), miracles!!  WHY???  He didn't FEEL adequate or capable.

Compare:  Jer. 1:4-6 - (he never got over his insecurity)   1 Cor. 2:3 - Apostle Paul

I.  These are all spiritual giants and they didn't feel capable!!!
They displayed confidence, but A) this = confidence in God, not in 'self!!!
and B) that leaves the appearance of 'self confidence, because can't see inside. 

II.  They didn't feel capable because they knew they were NOT capable!  They were not capable of doing God's work.
Was Moses a competent messenger?  (in Pharaoh's court?) - BUT, he couldn't change Pharaoh's heart, make the people follow him in the exodus. 
Was Paul a competent speaker?  a good traveler?  BUT, could he change hearts?  could he build the kingdom? 

We (mostly) feel incapable of impacting things beyond our control!   DUH!!!!  Remember -- it is BEYOND your control!

Illustration: "I feel inadequate as a parent." - can feed, clothe, love, nurture, discipline, instruct, direct.... BUT I can't MOLD them, MAKE them be/become what they should!!
 Therefore, I feel inadequate because I can't do what's beyond my control!!!

Point:  Feeding the 5,000 - Mark 6:35-42
the disciples CAN'T feed them.
the disciples CAN count loaves, seat people, carry bread, AND let God do the miracle stuff!!
They did what they could do and let Jesus do what He could do!

God doesn't ask you to perform beyond your capabilities.  He asks you to:  1)  perform within your capabilities and 2 allow Him to perform through those capabilities.  (hence:  Moses, Jeremiah, Paul, Disciples)

So:  #1.  Assess yourself (honestly) - Rom. 12:3
#2.  Admit your capabilities, your limits
#3.  Follow the Revelation you've received (examples:  Moses, Jeremiah, Paul)
          Do what you know to do.
          Do it to the best of your ability (that's your Christian duty, responsibility)
#4.  Allow God to use your response as He sees fit.

This is not saying the the feelings will go away.    Am saying, do not let those feelings rule (instruct, direct, control)

Scripture plus self confidence is mostly negative.  Prov. 3:5-6, 28:26
Scripture plus God confidence is nearly endless!!! - Psalms 71:5, Phil. 4:13

What's on the throne - emotions and Christ at the foot, or Christ on the throne and emotions at the foot?  If you haven't asked Jesus into your heart, you have neither of these things.  Must invite Him in and let Him take control

Monday, October 10, 2016

Faith and Feelings

Series - Profile - Questions

"In my Christian walk I wish I felt more ________________."    One from the profile questionnaire filled out two weeks ago.
Answers:  (from most to least)
righteous - not so much being, but doing
Presence (His)

30-40% listed the top two answers.

So, this week, Faith & Feelings - a view from Scripture

#1.  We are created emotional beings in the image of God.  However, we must be careful about conveying human feelings and emotions to God. He is NOT a human being.  He is a BEING but not a human being.

But in scripture we find various examples of emotions:
God - Isa. 1:14, 42:1 - love, hate, anger, grief, joy, jealousy
Jesus - @ Lazarus' tomb, over Jerusalem - Matt. 26:37-38 - in Gethsemane

Holy Spirit - "do not grieve"  "envies intensely", Rom. 8:26

Not to experience intense feelings makes a person something less than human, healthy

#2.  Man's emotional make-up suffered in the Fall.  It is NOW seriously flawed!!!

This does Not mean all emotions are bad!  Sin tainted everything but they are not all bad.
2 Tim. 1:4, Rom. 12:15, Gal. 5:22-23 - fruit of the Spirit
Example:  Puritans referred to "holy emotions" - those that line up with God's Word.

It does mean your emotions are unreliable, untrustworthy!
Examples:  Can you be loved and not feel loved?  Secure, smart, beautiful, thin, capable, accepted, wealthy, wrong?
Can you be moved by a fictional  novel?  An animated movie?

Because our emotions are unreliable (easily manipulated...)
#3.  Emotions should be measured by something that is reliable (trustworthy) - God's Word!!!

#4.  If the emotions is legitimate, it should be accepted, cultivated, and enjoyed.
Example:  Song of Solomon 1:1-4

But ----
#5.  If the emotion is illegitimate  (wrong, ungodly, unholy), it should be mastered!  Compare:  Gen. 4:7
Emotions on throne of heart OR God on throne of heart.

NOTE:  You man not be able to control the emotion, BUT you can control the response to the emotion.
Example:  response to wrong attraction, or when have been insulted

Back to the list at the beginning:
1.  Is there anything wrong with desiring these feelings?  emotions???
2.  Anything wrong with allowing that Unfulfilled desire to detract you from doing right? (living the Christian life?)  Derail your faith walk?

#6.  Sometimes the negative feelings are legitimate, necessary, helpful - in a sense a blessing.
Example:  David after Bathsheba - Psalm 51 - He felt guilty, dirty, unworthy, failed God, Israel, Uriah, Bathsheba!
A. Why?  Because he was all these feelings but they led him to repent and get his relationship right with God.
B.  Was that a bad thing??

Negative feelings can serve a good purpose!!  (can awaken, correct, instruct, develop, motivate us!)
Matt. 5:3, 4, 5 - poor in spirit, mourn, hunger and thirst for righteousness

SUMMARY & CONCLUSION to Faith and Feeling

God gifted us with feelings
They were perfect - in Eden
They are now flawed - seriously flawed
They will be fixed - part of redemption process

Meanwhile -
Identify, subdue, master the "unholy emotions" - take charge of the response

Identify, cultivate, enjoy the "holy emotions" - they are a gift from God

Allow both (holy and unholy) to be useful instruments in God's hands for developing your Christian character.

After all that, Trust God   AND   Walk on!!! - in the direction He's called you and saved you!

Monday, October 3, 2016

Spiritual Profile

After taking a spiritual profile last week, found that it is almost the same as pas profiles, and national surveys (Barna, others)
on one hand everybody's profile is unique.  However, all are similar!! - Is a profile of Christian people in general.


 #1.  we are imperfect people in an imperfect world.  (fallen world with fallen people)
AND, we walk with an imperfect faith.  (Question:  Are we capable of perfect faith?)

#2.  Our model = Jesus and our standard = Truth, His Word.  These = perfection.  So, attempts to live up to our model and our standard are going to result in:
        A.  Failure and, therefore,
        B.  Frustration.
Compare attempting to imitate an NBA athlete or Olympic medalist

#3.  The longer you walk (ie: attempt to follow, serve, represent)  the more failures you will experience.
 you live longer, try longer = more failures

#4.  Given the situation (ie: a fallen person in a fallen world striving to imitate a perfect model and live up to a perfect standard...) THAT'S how it will be!  - there are going to be times of failure and feelings of failure.
And, (MAYBE how it must be?)   (MAYBE how it should be!?)

Will Divide into 2 areas:
1.  Being - I want to be a better person (Christian)
2.  Doing - I want to do a better job (servant)

#1.  BEING - I want to be a better person Christian)
On one hand, we're to REST in Christ, to trust Him and His faithfulness, His complete work on the Cross, His love, concern, care, His Presence, his Indwelling - 1 Pet. 5:7

On the other hand, we're to recognize our imperfections (sins, shortcomings, failures, etc.) and STRIVE to correct them.  Phil. 3:10 - (work out)  1 Cor. 9:25-27

Yes, we have confidence in His love and care, but still we are to strive.

#2.  DOING - I want to do a better job (as servant, ambassador, representative)

So, on one hand we're to trust Him to do His work!!!
On the other hand, we're to strive in labor as His CO-WORKERS!!
Col. 1:28-29  Phil. 2:12-13
Example:  Paul's words to Timothy - strive, struggle, etc.

Does my sanctification (development, maturity) depend on Christ?  or on me?
Answer = BOTH    2 Pet. 1:5-7 - work at it.
We can never attain without Christ, but He expects us to be involved in it.

Does my success (as servant, representative, ambassador depend on Christ?  or on me?  Again, answer = BOTH - 1 Cor. 15:9-10
Clearly, we can't do God's work, but God wants to work through us!  (in conjunction with)

Summary We are to do
                 We are to trust
Somewhere in all that = Balance
Our example = Jesus - always busy, never anxious

1.  Some frustration is natural (it's either that or indifference)  -People who are serious about Christ and the Christian walk are NOT indifferent)

2.  Some frustration may even be reasonable - (acceptable, within God's will, plan - considering the situation)
3.  Many of us carry it too far - (we go out of the area of trust)

4.  You are not alone.  1 Cor. 10:13 a ...."common to man."

5.  You are not on your own - Phil. 1:6 - Christ is with you.


#1.  TRUST HIM - just trust Him

#2WALK ON - don't quit, don't drop out

#3.  TRUST HIM - He'll never leave you, is never unconcerned.