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    Charles stanley article Charles stanley article Document Transcript

    • Direction Without Doubt By Dr. Charles Stanley Memory Verse: Psalm 25:12 I. Introduction: Christians can face difficult decisions with confidence knowing God is willing to give them clear direction in every situation. However, those who fail to seek or wait for His guidance will experience uncertainty, confusion, and frustration. Feelings of inadequacy or the fear of making wrong choices prevent some people from taking advantage of wonderful opportunities. Others miss out because they rush ahead and hope everything works out for the best. With so much at stake, we desperately need God’s wisdom to direct us. The Lord wants you to make the right decision in every circumstance. He’s not trying to keep His will a secret. However, your attitude regarding His guidance makes a difference. His instructions are reserved for those who fear Him (Ps. 25:12). So when you acknowledge that He alone has the right to direct every choice you make, He’ll give you the wisdom you seek. II. A Pattern for Making Decisions. The following six steps will help you discern God’s directions no matter what situation you’re facing. A. Clear the pathway. In order to hear the Lord’s voice, you must remove all obstacles by: 1. Clearing your heart of sin. Any sinful attitude or habit must be removed before you can proceed because sin clouds the mind like fog obstructs your view on the highway. Ask God if there’s anything in your life that doesn’t fit your identity as a follower of Christ. If He reveals a specific sin, immediately confess and repent of it. 2. Bringing your desires to the point of neutrality. There will be times when what you want in a situation is not in line with what the Lord desires. The only way you’ll receive His guidance is by submitting to Him. When you can honestly say that you desire His will be done more than your own, He’ll give you clear direction. B. Exercise patience. Some decisions are urgent—at least from a human perspective. However, demanding an immediate answer from God is a sign of distrust. Patience requires a willingness to trust the Lord and submit to His timing. Examine the situation from God’s perspective and remember that those who wait for the Lord will not be ashamed (Ps. 25:3). C. Be alert to pressure. When seeking the Lord’s direction, be careful not to let anyone or anything persuade you to choose a path other than God’s. Be cautious of: 1. External pressure. Sometimes people don’t understand why you’re waiting, and they may offer advice or push you to make a decision. Instead of giving in and jumping ahead of God’s will, fill your mind with His Word. That way, you’ll be able to discern if the advice aligns with His desires. 2. Internal pressure. Other times, the pressure to make a decision comes from within. Fear of losing an opportunity may cause you to enter into a situation or relationship instead of waiting for God’s guidance. He may lead you to a decision nobody else will understand, but if you take the first step of obedience, His blessings will follow. D. Persist in prayer. Just because you don’t receive an immediate answer from the Lord, it doesn’t mean He isn’t listening. The point of persistent prayer is not to force God to do what you want but to see the situation from His perspective. As you wait, He deepens your relationship with Him and deals with issues in your life that are preventing you from growing spiritually.
    • E. Rest in God’s promise. In order to find out what the Lord wants you to do in a situation, you must believe His promises. He assures us He’ll answer the prayers of those who ask, seek, and knock (Matt. 7:7), and if you’ll faithfully read the Word each day, the Holy Spirit will lead you to passages with the guidance you need for any situation. F. Wait for Christ’s peace. The last step in the decision making process is to let the peace of Christ act as the “umpire” for your choice (see Col. 3:15). When the direction is from God, His peace will enter your heart and mind. This is the final proof that you are following His path. There are no more doubts—just confident assurance. III. Conclusion: When you’re faced with a decision and don’t know what to do, remember that God’s Word is His primary method of speaking to His people. You can also receive guidance by humbly seeking the Lord in prayer and asking the Holy Spirit to help you apply Scriptural principles to your particular circumstance. When you patiently wait to hear His voice and heed His instructions, you can make a confident decision knowing that God has given you clear direction. Acquiring Wisdom Key Scripture: Proverbs 2:1-7 I. Introduction: There is a difference between knowledge and wisdom. We have access to more information than we know what to do with. But something is still missing—great wisdom. There are many people who boast about their knowledge, education, and degrees, but they make disasters of their lives because they lack spiritual discernment and understanding. Although few Scriptures advise us to acquire more information, many admonish us to seek wisdom. If we follow Biblical principles, He will give us understanding and guidance for every decision and situation we encounter. II. What is wisdom? The Bible makes a distinction between two very different kinds of wisdom: A. Worldly wisdom is the use of knowledge and information. It’s based on human understanding and reasoning, but it is foolishness to the Lord (1 Cor. 3:19). B. Godly wisdom is the capacity to see things from the Father’s viewpoint and respond according to Scriptural principles. III. How do we acquire godly wisdom? It takes time and effort to become truly wise because it comes as a result of learning from the decisions we make. In order to gain the godly wisdom we need, there are seven things we can do. We acquire it by: A. Seeking it. Since no one is born with wisdom, we have two options—seek it or face the consequences of living without it. The world offers many other pursuits that cater to our desires— security, wealth, friends, health, popularity, prominence, prestige, or beauty. But Proverbs 8:11 says all desirable things can’t compare with wisdom. It’s a gift God gives to those who diligently search for it like hidden treasure (Prov. 2:4-7). B. Meditating on God’s Word. The Bible is God’s mind recorded for us on paper. It reveals His ways, plans, and purposes, and when we read and understand it, His thoughts become a part of us and affect how we live. That’s why we should begin every day with the Lord, asking Him to give us direction from His Word. C. Obeying Scriptural principles. Merely having Biblical knowledge and understanding does not make us wise. God’s wisdom is reserved for those who heed His instructions by actively obeying and applying His truths to their lives (Prov. 8:33-34).
    • D. Praying for it. Proverbs doesn’t specifically emphasize praying for wisdom, but James tells us to ask God for it if it’s something we lack (James 1:5-6). However, simply requesting wisdom is not enough. We must ask in faith, obey what the Lord says, and watch the results of our actions. Obedience always brings blessings, but negative consequences occur if we ignore God and go our own ways. E. Observing how God works in the world. The book of Proverbs tells us that wisdom comes from observing the results of various lifestyles. For example, wise men are cautious and turn away from evil, but fools are arrogant and careless (Prov. 14:16). Even ants teach us the importance of working diligently for our provisions because laziness leads to poverty (Prov. 6:6-11). The Bible helps us understand God’s perspective and leads us to make wise choices that produce positive results. F. Heeding godly counsel. Everyone needs guidance at times, but not all advice is godly. Some people—even trained counselors—can actually lead us astray instead of helping us find God’s way. Whenever we seek out someone for direction, we should evaluate person’s lifestyle and determine the source of the advice. Is the counsel based on God’s Word or on psychology, a university education, or personal opinion? G. Associating with the wise. Never underestimate the influence of friends. They can either help us grow in wisdom or cause us to suffer harm (Prov. 13:20). That’s why we need to examine our friends to determine if they build us up or lead us astray. We should also evaluate what kind of friend we are to others. Are we willing to tell them the truth based on what the Scriptures say, or is our goal only to tell them what they want to hear? IV. Conclusion: Wisdom is a choice that begins with a decision to trust Christ as Savior and increases as we follow the teachings of God’s Word. If we want to be wise, we need a burning passion for the Lord’s guidance because there are many ideas, people, and situations that tempt us to ignore the Scriptural principles that lead to wisdom. The world tells us time is short and to live for today’s pleasures and pursuits. But, in reality, knowing our time on earth is limited ought to motivate us to correct sinful behaviors and attitudes and to begin living wisely according to God’s standards. Victory Over Fear Key Scripture: Isaiah 41:10-13 I. Introduction: All you have to do is watch the news to see terrifying events happening around the world. However, in spite of all this, God’s people are called to live fearlessly. How can we remain calm and confident in the midst of it all? We must remember that the Lord has promised to strengthen, help, and uphold us, and He always keeps His Word. II. What is fear? A. Fear is an uneasy feeling of dread—like an alarm, warning that something bad is going to happen. It could be caused by a threat or feeling a loss of control in a certain situation. B. When the Bible speaks about the fear of the Lord, it is a good fear—one created by a healthy reverence for a holy, righteous God. C. Remember that fear itself is not bad. But when it’s continually with us, it becomes a problem. III. Many emotions are linked with fear. Many of the negative emotions we experience in life are rooted in fear. For example:
    • A. Greed is fear of not having enough. B. Rejection is concern about not being accepted. C. Guilt is apprehension that our wrongs might be discovered. D. Discouragement is a fear of failure caused by a lack of confidence. E. Anger is caused by a fear that we may not get our way. F. Jealousy is the fear of losing control of what we desire. G. Indecision is caused when we worry about making a wrong choice. IV. Why are we afraid? “God has not given us a spirit of timidity,” so He is never the source of our fears (2 Tim. 1:7). Where do they come from? A. Childhood lessons: In their attempts to protect and train us, our parents may have ingrained fears in us. B. Imagination: Sometimes, the nervous system cannot distinguish between a real or imagined danger. C. Sin: Fear is a consequence of disobeying the Lord. It is good because it reminds us we’ll give an account of our lives to Him one day. D. Ignorance: Some of our fears are based on misinformation instead of truth. E. Doubt: The Lord is our source of security. When we doubt His love, fear replaces trust and peace. F. Poor Self-Image: All people need to feel accepted and valued by others. Without this, the fear of rejection takes its place. G. Unattainable Standards: Sometimes we aim too high and become anxious when it we miss our goals. H. Wrong View of God: If we primarily view the Lord as our Judge, we’ll be afraid and misunderstand the vastness of His love. V. What are the consequences of fear? Passing moments of fear are natural. But when you allow it to rule you, there are consequences. For example, fear: A. Divides your mind. You can’t concentrate if apprehensions are constantly distracting you. B. Stifles your ability to think and act rightly. Anxieties cloud your mind and keep you from behaving as you should. C. Causes indecision. Fear can paralyze you when you need to make choices. D. Undermines self-confidence. God has given every person skills and talents, but fear causes you to doubt you can accomplish His work. E. Results in panic. If you lose the ability to manage your fears, they control you. F. Enslaves you in uncertainty. Whenever long-term situations like health or financial worries have uncertain outcomes, you can be consumed with worry about the future. G. Destroys relationships. Those who have experienced difficulties in past relationships may find
    • the fear of repeating those mistakes keeps them from forming new ones. H. Steals joy and peace. Think of your life as a machine and joy and peace as the oil that keeps it running. Fear is like sand that grinds away at the gears and erodes your happiness. I. Blocks spiritual growth. You’ll never be able to become the person God wants you to be if you’re afraid to step out in obedience. J. Affects health. Prolonged fearful anxiety is linked to many physical disorders. VI. How should you deal with fear? A. Acknowledge it. Before you can begin to deal with your fear, you must admit it’s a problem in your life. B. Identify its source. Ask yourself if you’re afraid of a situation with an uncertain outcome or of the consequences of past choices. Once you know the true source, you can address it. C. Change your focus. When your attention is fixed on your fears, they only get worse. The only way to reverse this negative process is to shift your focus to the most powerful weapon you have— the Word of God. D. Rely on Isaiah 41:10. What you are facing is a faith battle. This verse can be your anchor in fearful times if you’ll believe it and count it as true in your situation. E. Lay down your fear. Based on the certainty that the Lord is faithful, loving, and omnipotent, you have no reason to hold on to your anxieties. VII. Conclusion: What are you going to do with your fears? You can either keep them and suffer the negative consequences, or you can trust the Lord and place them in His loving hands. Although God doesn’t say in Isaiah 41:10 that He will remove you from fearful circumstances, He promises to strengthen and sustain you through them. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 1) -- Victory Over Anxiety By Dr. Charles Stanley Key Scripture: Philippians 4:4-7 I. Introduction: Emotions greatly influence how we live our lives. They are a gift from God, provided so we can enjoy life and relate to others, but how we express them determines whether they are beneficial or detrimental. Either we control them, or they control us. Anxiety is the most prominent emotion people are experiencing today. It’s important to realize that feeling anxious is not a sin, but the Lord doesn’t want us to live in a continual state of dread because of life’s uncertainties. It’s important to understand what we should do with anxiety and how long we let it control us. II. What is anxiety? A. In the New Testament, the word anxiety means, “to be distracted or pulled apart.” This is the opposite of peace, which means, “to be bound together.” B. It can also be defined as “dread, apprehension, and uncertainty” and can be caused by past events, a present situation, or future possibilities. C. Sometimes, anxiety is a fear of not being in control or of feeling vulnerable.
    • III. What are the sources of anxiety? First of all, know that God is not the creator of anxiety and that worry doesn’t fit our identity as followers of Christ. Instead, we should trust God (Matt. 6:2526). It’s important to know there are: A. Legitimate causes. Some things are just naturally going to create anxiety. For example, if you didn’t study for an exam, you have reason to be nervous. B. Inappropriate reasons. At other times, our worries are caused when we feel we might not get what we want. It could be some possession or a relationship we want, even if we know it’s not right. C. Unacknowledged issues. When we don’t deal with the cause of our anxiety, it takes up longterm residence within us, causing all sorts of emotional and physical problems. This is not the way God wants His children to live. IV. Why should we avoid anxiety? A. It isn’t scriptural. In one passage alone, Jesus said, “Do not be anxious” three times (Matt. 6:25-34). He explained that it is unnecessary because the Father will provide what we need. We simply can’t accept a lifestyle of anxiety when Jesus is our Prince of Peace. B. Anxiety has a negative effect on every area of our lives because it: 1. Divides our minds. Apprehension pulls us in two different directions, making it hard to focus on important matters. 2. Slows down our productivity. Because we are distracted with worry, we can’t give anything else our best efforts. 3. Affects our personal relationships with others. It’s hard to keep our anxieties to ourselves. When we’re filled with fear, we burden those around us. 4. Leads to unwise decisions. Those who are overly concerned about the future are prone to make hasty decisions to stop feeling uncertain. 5. Steals our joy and peace. It’s impossible for us to be fretful and peaceful at the same time. 6. Proves to be a terrible waste of time and energy. Uncertainty, frustration, and worry are exhausting and achieve nothing and can even have a devastating effect on our health. V. What is the correct way to deal with anxiety? With so much at stake, it’s foolish to give in to anxiety or seek quick, temporary relief. Instead of worrying, you should: A. Bring your worries to God. Whatever is troubling you is a matter for prayer. The first step to freedom is confessing your fears to the Lord rather than let them rule you (Acts 18:9-10). B. Come to the Lord with an attitude of thanksgiving. In the midst of your apprehension, you may not feel grateful, but when you think about God’s loving involvement in your life, you can’t help but praise Him (Phil: 4:6-7). C. Come with a threefold conviction. Remember the Lord loves you unconditionally and wants the best for you. Also, He has the desire and power to help, so you can expect Him to do just that. D. Recognize that anxiety is a faith battle.We must believe that God will replace our anxieties. If we surrender our concerns into His hands, we can have His amazing peace—even if all hell breaks loose around us. VI. Conclusion: As great as all these promises are, they will not be yours if you give Christ your
    • worries with one hand and take them back with the other. True freedom is only possible when we finally admit that a burden is too heavy to carry. Remember, no one has to live in anxiety; it’s a choice. Freedom and peace await those who give their worries to God and leave them in His hands. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 2) -- Victory Over Guilt By Dr. Charles Stanley Key Scripture: John 8:1-11 I. Introduction: Everyone experiences feelings of guilt, but sometimes, they can’t even identify a specific reason for feeling worthy of blame. A vague sense of condemnation robs them of joy, assurance, and confidence, but that’s not how God designed guilt to operate. The story of Jesus and the adulterous woman is an example of true guilt (John 8:1-11). She stood before the scribes and Pharisees without excuse. Everyone knew she’d broken the Mosaic Law and deserved death, but when Jesus challenged those without sin to cast the first stone, all her accusers walked away. He told her, “I do not condemn you either. Go. From now on sin no more” (v. 11). Jesus is not in the business of condemning us but of removing our guilt and cleansing our lives. II. What is guilt? A. Guilt can be defined two ways: A state of having done something wrong or having committed an offense. A painful feeling of self-condemnation for having done something we recognize as being a sin. B. Guilt can be good, bad, true, or false. Good guilt is received when we disobey God. It is His “red light” telling us to stop doing something that is displeasing to Him. Bad guilt is the result of wrong thinking, not wrong action. For instance, some churches teach that going to the movies is sinful, but if a film is wholesome, there’s no need to feel guilty. True guilt is a painful feeling received as a result of doing something wrong. Examples of this include Adam and Eve’s disobedience in the garden, David’s desire for Bathsheba, and Peter’s denial of Jesus. False guilt is a painful feeling a person feels when he/she has not committed a wrong. For example, a child who is abused might feel guilty even though it was forced on him/her. III. The Consequences of Guilt. All guilt—whether it’s good, bad, true, or false—can cause people to… A. Fear rejection by God. Some people feel that God could never love them for what they’ve done. B. Feel God’s judgment could be imminent. Many people live in fear that their loved ones or their jobs could be taken from them as punishment. C. Feel strong anxiety. Guilt and worry work hand in hand to make people miserable. D. Feel driven in life. Some people will work tirelessly in their own strength to try to overcome or compensate for whatever makes them feel guilty.
    • E. Have a divided mind. Guilt always hinders a person’s ability to focus. F. Experience decreased energy. Guilt is draining that leaves people feeling exhausted before the day even begins. G. Feel a sense of self-punishment. People who believe they deserve discipline often miss out on God’s offer of mercy and grace. H. Feel a sense of insecurity. Those who feel separated from the Lord can’t experience His love, protection, and provision. I. Experience a hindered prayer life. Satan is quick to make people believe his lie that their guilt means God will not hear or answer their prayers. J. Experience depression. Guilt produces despair that hangs over people like a black cloud. K. Feel shameful. It isn’t right to feel shameful for false or bad guilt; only being disobedient to God should make people feel this way. L. Feel unable to have good relationships with others. Covering up sins and past failures keeps people from being loving and open towards others. M. Miss the will of God. Without intimate fellowship with the Father, it is impossible to follow His direction. N. Suffer from physical illness. Sustained guilt eventually takes its toll on people physically. IV. The Release from Guilt. It begins when we understand the substitutionary death of Christ on the cross. Through our relationship with Him, we have the right and privilege and authority of God to confess, repent and be cleansed of sin. Jesus already paid the penalty for us. It is up to us to… A. Face the guilty feelings honestly. B. Identify the cause of the guilty feelings. C. Confess and repent if it is necessary. D. Choose to accept God’s full forgiveness based on the cross, not our feelings. E. Recognize that receiving forgiveness doesn’t mean there won’t be repercussions. We might have to deal with the consequences of our actions. F. Turn our mistakes into blessings for others and tell them what He’s done for us. V. Conclusion: As believers, we do not have to live with guilt. So whether it’s false or true, we must deal with it in order to gain the happiness, joy, and peace the Father has for us and to be better able to fulfill His purposes for our lives. He’s ready to set us free from anything and everything that hinders our relationships with Him. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 3) -- Victory Over Fear By Dr. Charles Stanley Key Scripture: Isaiah 41:10-13 I. Introduction: All you have to do is watch the news to see terrifying events happening around the world. However, in spite of all this, God’s people are called to live fearlessly. How can we remain
    • calm and confident in the midst of it all? We must remember that the Lord has promised to strengthen, help, and uphold us, and He always keeps His Word. II. What is fear? A. Fear is an uneasy feeling of dread—like an alarm, warning that something bad is going to happen. It could be caused by a threat or feeling a loss of control in a certain situation. B. When the Bible speaks about the fear of the Lord, it is a good fear—one created by a healthy reverence for a holy, righteous God. C. Remember that fear itself is not bad. But when it’s continually with us, it becomes a problem. III. Many emotions are linked with fear. Many of the negative emotions we experience in life are rooted in fear. For example: A. Greed is fear of not having enough. B. Rejection is concern about not being accepted. C. Guilt is apprehension that our wrongs might be discovered. D. Discouragement is a fear of failure caused by a lack of confidence. E. Anger is caused by a fear that we may not get our way. F. Jealousy is the fear of losing control of what we desire. G. Indecision is caused when we worry about making a wrong choice. IV. Why are we afraid? “God has not given us a spirit of timidity,” so He is never the source of our fears (2 Tim. 1:7). Where do they come from? A. Childhood lessons: In their attempts to protect and train us, our parents may have ingrained fears in us. B. Imagination: Sometimes, the nervous system cannot distinguish between a real or imagined danger. C. Sin: Fear is a consequence of disobeying the Lord. It is good because it reminds us we’ll give an account of our lives to Him one day. D. Ignorance: Some of our fears are based on misinformation instead of truth. E. Doubt: The Lord is our source of security. When we doubt His love, fear replaces trust and peace. F. Poor Self-Image: All people need to feel accepted and valued by others. Without this, the fear of rejection takes its place. G. Unattainable Standards: Sometimes we aim too high and become anxious when it we miss our goals. H. Wrong View of God: If we primarily view the Lord as our Judge, we’ll be afraid and misunderstand the vastness of His love. V. What are the consequences of fear? Passing moments of fear are natural. But when you allow it to rule you, there are consequences. For example, fear:
    • A. Divides your mind. You can’t concentrate if apprehensions are constantly distracting you. B. Stifles your ability to think and act rightly. Anxieties cloud your mind and keep you from behaving as you should. C. Causes indecision. Fear can paralyze you when you need to make choices. D. Undermines self-confidence. God has given every person skills and talents, but fear causes you to doubt you can accomplish His work. E. Results in panic. If you lose the ability to manage your fears, they control you. F. Enslaves you in uncertainty. Whenever long-term situations like health or financial worries have uncertain outcomes, you can be consumed with worry about the future. G. Destroys relationships. Those who have experienced difficulties in past relationships may find the fear of repeating those mistakes keeps them from forming new ones. H. Steals joy and peace. Think of your life as a machine and joy and peace as the oil that keeps it running. Fear is like sand that grinds away at the gears and erodes your happiness. I. Blocks spiritual growth. You’ll never be able to become the person God wants you to be if you’re afraid to step out in obedience. J. Affects health. Prolonged fearful anxiety is linked to many physical disorders. VI. How should you deal with fear? A. Acknowledge it. Before you can begin to deal with your fear, you must admit it’s a problem in your life. B. Identify its source. Ask yourself if you’re afraid of a situation with an uncertain outcome or of the consequences of past choices. Once you know the true source, you can address it. C. Change your focus. When your attention is fixed on your fears, they only get worse. The only way to reverse this negative process is to shift your focus to the most powerful weapon you have— the Word of God. D. Rely on Isaiah 41:10. What you are facing is a faith battle. This verse can be your anchor in fearful times if you’ll believe it and count it as true in your situation. E. Lay down your fear. Based on the certainty that the Lord is faithful, loving, and omnipotent, you have no reason to hold on to your anxieties. VII. Conclusion: What are you going to do with your fears? You can either keep them and suffer the negative consequences, or you can trust the Lord and place them in His loving hands. Although God doesn’t say in Isaiah 41:10 that He will remove you from fearful circumstances, He promises to strengthen and sustain you through them. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 4) -- Victory Over Rejection Key Scripture: Romans 8:31-39 I. Introduction: People can live in bondage to rejection and not even know it. It causes us to believe lies about ourselves and undermines our relationships with the Lord. Even though God says He is for us and nothing can separate us from Him (Rom. 8:31-39), past experiences can make us feel differently. It’s impossible to avoid feeling rejection’s sting, so we must deal with it by
    • acknowledging its presence, discovering its source, and letting the Lord help us overcome it. II. The Nature of Rejection. It is a painful emotion that is created when someone refuses us, and it has many negative outcomes: A. It creates a feeling of being excluded or unwanted. We can feel unworthy or like we don’t fit in. B. It is a form of control. Those who refuse to accept us can influence what we do and think. C. It leads to self-rejection. We become critical of ourselves and lose self-respect. D. It can become a syndrome. Those who have never dealt with their feelings act in ways that cause others to reject them. III. What are the characteristics of a person suffering from rejection? People who are consciously or unconsciously enslaved by rejection will: A. Have a critical spirit toward themselves and others. People with low self-esteem often try to bring other people down. B. Experience difficulty in loving others. If people don’t love themselves, they’re not equipped to love others. C. Have feelings of inferiority. Rejection makes people believe they never fit in or measure up. D. Be overly attentive to appearance. Hurting people try to dress in ways that will help them feel accepted. E. Be prone to perfectionism. To avoid failure, some people won’t try tasks they cannot do perfectly. This also leads to procrastination. F. Live in a state of floating anger. An attitude of anger permeates their lives and leads them to find fault with others. G. Display an attitude of superiority. An arrogant demeanor is really just a cover-up for feelings of inferiority. H. Be overly sensitive. Those who struggle with feelings of rejection are easily hurt and prone to misinterpreting comments as being unkind. I. Resist being loved. People who don’t feel worthy have difficulty accepting affection. J. Be suspicious. Some people become suspicious of anyone who tries to befriend them because they believe there must be an ulterior motive. K. Become aloof. To avoid rejection, some people become loners. L. Fall into depression. When people feel unworthy, they naturally are sad and discouraged. M. Be cheated out of life. People who can’t overcome the emotional effects of rejection miss God’s best blessings. N. Have a materialistic focus. To feel wanted, some people gather possessions only to find they never satisfy. O. Miss God’s plan for their lives. Feelings of rejection cheat people of all the Lord wants to do in and through them.
    • P. Adopt sinful practices. When people can’t accept themselves, they sometimes turn to drugs, drinking, or sex in a search of relief. IV. Reasons for Feeling Rejected. The underlying cause of this painful emotion is a person’s opinion of himself, which is brought about by hurtful experiences such as: A. Physical defects. Not liking how he looks can make a person feel undesirable or unlovable. B. Past emotional hurts. When a person is hurt, the damaging effects always linger. C. The death of a loved one. Some people interpret loss as rejection because they feel alone. In their eyes, God has turned His back on them. D. Divorce. This is a very painful experience because both spouses and children are affected and are left feeling discarded. E. Childhood experiences. Words of criticism and rejection stick in a child’s memory and shape his view of himself. He will spend a lifetime trying to validate his worth. V. How can we overcome feelings of rejection? These negative feelings must be dealt with if we are to be truly complete. There are three essential elements that comprise a healthy attitude, and the Lord supplies them all. Through Him, we gain: A. A sense of belonging. Those who are a part of the body of Christ belong to God’s family (Rom. 8:16). Once we fix this truth in our hearts, we’ll feel secure no matter what. B. A feeling of worthiness. Jesus considered us so valuable that He was willing to die in our place (John 3:16). C. A sense of competence. When we accepted Christ as our Savior, the Holy Spirit came to live inside us. One of His jobs is to enable us to accomplish whatever God calls us to do (Phil. 4:13). VI. Conclusion: There is no need to go through life handicapped by past experiences. The first step to gaining victory over rejection comes when you choose to believe the Lord and find your acceptance in Him. Begin by asking the Lord’s forgiveness for allowing hurtful emotions to hinder you. The next step is to deal with your offenses toward others and ask for their forgiveness because true healing demands that you address both sides of rejection. After that, it all boils down to a choice between believing what God says or what others say about you. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 5) -- Victory Over Anger Key Scripture: Ephesians 4:31-32 I. Introduction: Anger is the most dangerous of all our emotions. It hurts those it’s directed toward and also acts like a boomerang that comes back at us. We may feel our outrage is justified and that letting go somehow lessens the wrongs done to us. However, hanging onto hostility is what is truly destructive both to our loved ones and ourselves. II. What is anger? A. It’s a strong feeling of displeasure, hostility, or indignation as a result of real or imagined threat, insult, frustration, or injustice toward ourselves or others who are important to us. B. Ephesians 4:31-32 advises us to let go of feelings like bitterness, wrath, and malice and instead be kind, tenderhearted, and forgiving. C. Proverbs 22:24-25 says anger is contagious and warns us not to associate with an angry person.
    • That’s how it is passed from one generation to the next. D. Ephesians 4:26 says, “Be angry, and yet do not sin.” This means that not all anger is sin. In fact, Scripture often speaks about God’s wrath. Anger is good and legitimate when it’s controlled, justifiable, and unselfish. III. To determine if your anger is sinful, ask yourself: A. Is it directed toward a person? B. Is it without a justifiable cause? C. Does my anger seek to harm another person? D. Am I holding tightly to it? E. Have I developed an unforgiving spirit? IV. Typical Ways of Handling Anger. Whenever we don’t deal with our hostility, we’re likely to express it in harmful ways. For example, we might: A. Repress it. Some people have buried their anger so deeply they deny its existence. B. Suppress it. Others internalize their resentment without realizing it’s poisoning their lives. C. Explode. Rage in an outburst that provides emotional relief but harms others. D. Simmer. Some people put their anger in an emotional “pressure cooker,” letting it continually build. E. Excuse it. Those who refuse to take responsibility for their anger will blame others or claim it’s the way God made them. F. All our responses to anger can be summed up in seven words. We can blame others, blow up, bury it, bear it, belittle it, grow bitter, or benefit from it. V. Consequences of Anger. This negative emotion: A. Hinders our relationships with God. We can’t harbor anger in our hearts and be right with the Lord. B. Breaks our connections with others. Since anger is usually self-centered, it hurts our relationships. C. Creates a critical spirit. Negativity becomes a part of our lives and robs us of peace. D. Makes us feel isolated. Because we are difficult to be around, we push people away with our negativity. E. Leaves us feeling empty. Instead of love, joy, peace, and goodness, we find loneliness, fear, frustration, and discontent. F. Blocks our focus. Anger distracts our minds and often leads to procrastination. G. Creates physical problems. Our bodies were not designed to function with continual hostility and bitterness. VI. Dealing with Anger. Since an angry attitude is costly and makes us ungodly, foolish, unproductive, and unhealthy, we must deal with it by:
    • A. Identifying the source. It’s important to examine our lives to determine the cause of our feelings. B. Confessing it. We must acknowledge our anger rather than denying the problem. C. Clarifying feelings. It’s important to determine what’s behind our anger. Perhaps it is due to hurt, rejection, or unwanted circumstances. D. Dealing with it quickly. The longer we hold onto hostility, the more we justify its presence and defend our right to be offended. E. Taking an emotional timeout. We should stop and ask the Lord how He wants us to respond. He tells us “Be quick to hear, slow to speak, and slow to anger” (James 1:19). F. Putting it away. Through the power of the Holy Spirit, we can rid ourselves of the anger and begin each day by putting on the spiritual armor of God (Eph. 6:11). G. Replacing it. Instead of letting anger harm us, we can use that energy to do something productive such to work out negative emotions. H. Determining to benefit from it. Anger is a signal from the Lord that something’s wrong in our lives. We should heed His warning, and let Him teach us how to handle it. I. Purposing in our hearts to prevent it from reoccurring. Once we’ve overcome an angry spirit, we can’t become entangled again. VII. Conclusion. Life is too precious to continue in self-destructive patterns of resentment and bitterness because friends and family suffer, and your quality of life is lessened. If you’re struggling with hostility, ask the Lord to enable you to put all these principles into practice. Once you do, you’ll be a strong, life-changing witness able to help others who are struggling with the same damaging emotion. Healing Damaged Emotions (Part 6) -- Victory Over Unforgiveness Key Scripture: Ephesians 4:26-27, 29-32 I. Introduction: Unforgiveness is an ungodly attitude that doesn’t fit in the lives of believers. Christ gave His life so those who believe in Him could be forgiven. As His followers, we are commanded to forgive as He did (Eph. 4:32). When we refuse, Satan gains a foothold in our lives and keeps us from becoming the people God desires. II. Key Terms Defined: A. Forgiveness is “giving up resentment against someone and surrendering one’s right to retaliate— no matter what another person did.” B. Unforgiveness is “a deliberate, willful refusal to give up resentment or an insistence that someone pay for a wrong that was committed.” C. We struggle with forgiveness because it seems to let wrongdoers get away with their offenses. However, we must realize that, when we accepted Christ as our Savior, we surrendered our right to retaliate. III. There are many reasons why we shouldn’t hold on to this negative emotion:
    • A. It doesn’t fit our identity in Christ. Since we’ve been forgiven of all our sins, we shouldn’t hold grudges against those who have wronged us. B. It plants a seed of bitterness. A refusal to forgive is like a seed planted in the heart, which grows into a root of bitterness (Heb. 12:15). C. It becomes self-imposed bondage. Carrying a load of resentment is a burden we weren’t meant to bear. When we surrender it to Christ, He gives us rest (Matt. 11:28). D. It is rebellion against God. Unforgiveness is sin because it’s a refusal to do what the Lord commands. E. It breaks our fellowship with the Lord. Jesus said, “If you do not forgive others, then your Father will not forgive your transgressions” (Matt. 6:15). This doesn’t mean we lose our salvation, but we cannot be right with God while holding onto resentment. F. It causes self-inflicted suffering. Holding onto a grudge causes more pain for us than the offenders. G. It becomes a barrier. Those who blame others and refuse to surrender bitterness that cannot achieve the prosperity and blessings God has in store. IV. When Peter asked how often he should forgive, Jesus told him “seventy times seven” (Matt. 18:21-22). If we set limits, the negative consequences of unforgiveness begin. A. A root of bitterness springs up. Harbored resentment is not a secret attitude. It overflows from our hearts (Heb. 12:15). B. Our prayer lives suffer. Our prayers will be ineffective until we deal with our bitterness. C. Our worship is hindered. Resentment keeps us from praising the Lord and interacting with His people. D. Our witness is damaged. We can’t tell others about Christ’s forgiveness when we hold grudges. E. It creates unresolved conflict. If we want to have Christ’s peace and joy, we must resolve conflicts with others. F. It blocks spiritual growth. Anytime we tolerate sin, we stop maturing. G. It hinders people around us. A bitter spirit can be passed on to others, especially our children. H. It affects us physically. Unforgiveness can take a toll on our bodies. V. In order to overcome bitterness, we must: A. Acknowledge it’s serious business. We can’t take unforgiveness lightly. It affects our relationships with God as well as our future plans. B. Assume responsibility for it. We need to look beyond the hurt and focus on our own lack of forgiveness. C. Confess it to the Lord. We should admit to God that we’re guilty of holding on to resentment. D. Acknowledge it’s a violation of God’s Word. Until we see it from His perspective, we won’t understand it’s an act of rebellion against Him. E. Ask the Lord to forgive us. We should admit our disobedience and seek His forgiveness.
    • F. Ask God to enable us to forgive. Giving up our right to retaliate isn’t easy, but the Holy Spirit will empower us to lay it down. G. Start praying for those who hurt us. When the offense is no longer paramount, we are free to ask the Lord to work in the lives of those who did us harm. H. Do something for others. Doing something good for those who hurt us is a powerful expression of forgiveness. I. Go to the ones who offended us. The Lord may lead us to seek forgiveness from others for our wrong attitudes and actions. J. Express forgiveness, even if the offender has died. We can vocalize our forgiveness while imagining that person seated in a chair. This works because God hears our conversation and settles the matter in our hearts. VI. We’ll know we’ve completely forgiven others when: A. We don’t see offenders in the same way. B. Harsh feelings are replaced with a different attitude towards people. C. We are willing to accept wrongdoers just as they are. D. We will try to understand why they acted a certain way. E. We won’t try to avoid them if we happen to meet them unexpectedly. VII. Conclusion: If we ignore the sin of unforgiveness, it will continue to hold us in bondage. Jesus Christ set us free (John 8:36). He forgave us of all our sins and gives us the grace and strength to lay down our hurts and trust Him to handle our situations. When we do, we can display the fruits of the spirit (Gal. 5:22-23) and gain true freedom from this negative emotion.