Saturday, May 21, 2011

The Anger Trap

“Don’t sin by letting anger get control over you. Don’t let the sun go down while you are still angry.” (Ephesians 4:26)

Anger is an emotion that many of us experience from time to time because it is just a part of our human nature. After all, we are made in God’s image and even He has experienced anger! I think God understands we will get angry, but the challenge is not to sin when we become angry or allow it to linger. When I become angry at someone or at a particular situation, I tend to let it bottle up inside and I can become very bitter. But once I acknowledge my anger and allow it to be, I can usually move quickly beyond it. Through prayer (lots of it!) and reliance upon God’s word and Holy Spirit, my anger can be overcome and resolved.  Anger in itself isn’t really the sin, it is an emotion that can get out of control and lead to sinful acts if we don’t handle it in a Christ-like manner. And I have found that by dealing with the situation immediately, and letting go of any resentment and animosity I am carrying, I can put it all in perspective and respond to the situation effectively.

“Everyone should be quick to listen, slow to speak, and slow to become angry. For a man’s anger does not bring about the righteous life that God desires. (James 1:19-20)

How does it usually make you feel when you have been really angry? If not handled with a calm and positive attitude, I find myself completely ashamed and wonder what it really accomplished, and what good it really did. Life is just too precious to let my anger become a bitter feeling that springs up into my heart and overshadows my Christian relationships. It is my duty to love my fellow man! If I can just stay focused on taking a deep breath and remind myself of how much more effective I am by maintaining a positive approach, I will emerge with a feeling of humbleness and obedience. God wants all of us to live a lifestyle of love that does not allow unresolved anger. He wants to fill our hearts with joy, and we can all overcome our anger by the power of God’s Word and Spirit! :)

 “I desire then that in every place the men should pray, lifting holy hands without anger or quarreling.” (l Timothy 2:8)

Monday, May 16, 2011

We Are Needy

“Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand.” (Isaiah 41:10 ESV)

Do I trust God, or myself? I have always believed a self-made person is considered a good thing and tend to have an “I can do it myself” mentality. But sooner or later, I have a problem that I just don’t know how to solve. So often I deceive myself into thinking I can trust in my own strength, and then I find myself in circumstances that are beyond my control! That’s when I become frustrated in my lack of effectiveness, and instead of trusting in my own strength, I pour my heart out to God. Looking back on the situation or condition, I realize I have just wasted a whole lot of anxiety and energy (not to mention faith!), and instead of trusting in my own independence and tenacity, I just needed to lean on Him and become totally reliant on Him in the first place. Isn’t it good to know that God is always there to help us solve issues, disappointments, and concerns? :) God gives us assurance of His strength, help, and victory in any situation. All we have to do is pray and trust in Him and He will give us the answer.  

We are needy! The most amazing gift we have been given is that we don’t have to rely on our own strength to make right decisions. :)

“He who trusts in himself is lost. He who trusts in God can do all things.” (Alphonsus Liguori)

I think that God sometimes puts us in a situation in which we are in over our heads in order to teach us so that He can break us of our self-reliance. We need to have “out stretched arms” and not be so dependent on our own strength and managing our own strategy. God places a premium on our trust and dependence on Him in all things, and He has specific outcomes for those who depend on Him. Isaiah 40:31 says “But those who wait for the Lord’s help find renewed strength; they rise up as if they had eagle’s wings, they run without growing weary, they walk without getting tired.” (NET) We are to totally depend on the power of God to work in us and in our own circumstances. Authentic followers of God admit and recognize that they have weaknesses and are willing to depend on God and allow Him to turn weaknesses into strengths.

“For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth is named, that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith—that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may have strength to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled with all the fullness of God.” (Ephesians 3:14-19 ESV)