Is it okay, to be angry?

I’ve always heard it preached, that anger is okay. People would quote Ephesians 4:26, “Be ye angry, and sin not:” and say, “Look! You can be angry, as long as you aren’t sinning.” This made perfect sense to me, and I took it as truth. But in time I’ve come to find another verse not far away, it says:

“Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:” Ephesians 4:31

Wait.

So isn’t that a contradiction? One verse tells us to be angry and not sin, and the other tells us to put our anger away? How can this be?

On another note, multiple verses tell us to be “slow to anger.” So anger is permissible, but only if you are not quick to anger?

With all of these thoughts, let us turn to our ultimate example- Christ.

It may surprise you that Jesus was angry upon multiple accounts. One time is mentioned in Mark 3. Jesus is about to heal the a man in the synagogue. He challenges the Pharisees ideas and they do not reply. In that moment, He was very angry. It says that he looked around at them in anger. Then, he healed the man.

Notice Jesus didn’t become violent, He didn’t act out in anger. He kept to His purpose. He continued His ministry. He continued to love. And from everything we read in that passage,

He moved on.

I think the answer to the anger question is simple.

In our anger, we should not sin. So that means we don’t lose control. But more than this, we don’t lose our focus. Not sinning in anger is more than just not yelling at someone, or not punching them in the face. No. It’s much more. In order for us to have anger in it’s proper place, we must be able to

Be angry, and still love

Be angry, and still prefer others above ourselves

Be angry, and still have Christ as our supreme focus, delight, and desire.

I have come to this conclusion, which I ask you to consider carefully before you accept. If our anger detracts, deters, or detours us from any objective- it is sin. If we flicker in our devotion to God. If we glance away from His plan for our lives. If we use it as an momentary occasion for pride, it is sin. If we feel anger as a reaction to an affront against us, instead of being angry for the sake of God’s honor, it is sin.

I do not know what kind of anger you have known, but my anger is most assuredly always an occasion of pride. It is always a moment of “How dare they ____ to me.” My anger is always in defense of what I think I “deserve.” True humility and love teaches me that I deserve nothing. And I need no defense.

I truly believe, if we are angry, it should be on behalf of God, and not ourselves.

If you have known this righteous anger, then I salute you, but there is still another aspect to consider. Ephesians 4:31 says, we must put our anger away. No matter how righteous your anger is, it will not be righteous for long, if you allow it to stay. The children of God must not live in a spirit of anger. We must not let it dwell in our hearts. Read the fruit of the spirit, love, joy, peace, longsuffering . . .

Do these all coexist with a heart full of anger, I think not. Let us be like our glorious Creator, of which it has been said,

“The LORD is merciful and gracious,
Slow to angerand abounding in mercy.”

Psalm 103:8

 

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Diversity in unity, found in Christ

Throughout our times we find much division. Just as any time in history the world is divided by all sorts of conflicts. Years ago, most of the world was divided by geography. People identified with the land they were born with. As time as gone on, we now identify more with religion, political ideas, food diets, health regiments, phone brands, hobbies and sports. Some of these divisions are petty and light-hearted, some run very deep and are the most malignant of divisions.

In Christ, we are one. Those who are Christians can gather with no sort of divisions between them. True, practicing Christians who love one another have no such wars or fightings among themselves. This really struck me when I was reading Galatians. In Galatians 2, Paul is speaking about false doctrine. He was preaching against some heresy that was in the church, specifically the preaching of following the old Jewish law.

In verse 3, he says, “But neither Titus, who was with me, being a Greek, was compelled to be circumcised:”

Paul was a Jewish  man and a Pharisee at that. He was the Jewish religious elite. He also was a Roman citizen. And he was preaching and traveling with Titus- who was Greek.

This wasn’t something that was necessarily spoken about, or mentioned a lot. In fact, it seemed perfectly natural, his only mentioning of it was because it was important to the conversation. Otherwise, it didn’t need to be mentioned. Christ had unified them, there was no need for discussion about their backgrounds or culture or race.

This is Christianity, this is true Christianity. Christ said, “By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another.” John 13:35

It doesn’t mention nationality, it doesn’t mention race, it doesn’t mention politics. It just says “have love one to another”

If you have added anything else, you’re doing it wrong.

 

When your friends arent there for you

I happens. You may be going through the worst time in your life, and your best friend doesn’t seem to care. They skip out on lunch, forget plans, never notice how down you are . . . They’re absorbed in themselves and they forget to care for you. In those moments, your response matters greatly. You can wallow in self pity and weakness, or you can rise above.

Jesus had his friends fail Him at the worst time in His life. And yet He still loved them. We found the account in Luke 22. Jesus is submitting His will to the Fathers. He is about to go to the cross to be crucified, and He is in great agony. He tells the disciples.

“And when he was at the place, he said unto them, Pray that ye enter not into temptation.”

Did you notice how Jesus was concerned about them? He didn’t say “pray with me for moral support” No, He told them to pray for their own sakes. Even at the most agonizing part of His life, He was still caring for them.

In the next verses we see how much agony Christ was in. It says, “And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.” His body was under so much stress and torment from the inner turmoil He faced that His body was mixing blood with His sweat. Within the next few moments, He came back to the disciples.

“And when he rose up from prayer, and was come to his disciples, he found them sleeping for sorrow,” They were sleeping for sorrow. Their own sorrow. They weren’t concerned about Him necessarily. The word sorrow could be translated exhaustion. They were tired, so they were sleeping. They had not a care that Christ was under so much pressure.

Christ’s response?

“Why sleep ye? rise and pray, lest ye enter into temptation.”

He was still concerned about them. He never faltered in His selflessness. He wanted them to live a life free of sin and failure to temptation. He loved them.

I don’t know how I would have reacted in such a situation. I probably would have felt hurt, betrayed, uncared for, or unloved. I might have become angry, or started and argument. But Christ? He was loving them. He had forgotten about Himself and His needs. He was completely fulfilled by the Father, ready to pour out Himself and love those around Him.

Is that how you are when friends betray you or disregard your struggles. I would ask you to pray and ask God to help you become a better friend. Ask Him to teach you how to love others even it would seem that you are the one who needs the most help or support. Don’t be a martyr, or be afraid to ask for companionship when you need it, but don’t allow other’s actions to bring you to selfishness.

“Look not every man on his own things, but every man also on the things of others.” Philippians 2:4

What does the Lord require?

I want you to imagine that you have a significant other that you’re telling how much you love them, and imagine you haven’t gone on a date with them for a few months, you barely call them- only when you need something, and you never do anything they ask you to do.

How long would that last?

How long would you stay if you were treated this way?

Probably not long for either question.

Love requires and demands evidence in every relationship. Words are not enough. Expensive gifts are not enough. Public declarations are not enough. It requires our heart.

It’s the same with God. He wants our hearts.

Psalm 51:16 says, “For thou desirest not sacrifice; else would I give it: thou delightest not in burnt offering.

Matthew 5:18 says, “This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.”

Psalm 51:17 tells us, “The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise.”

God wants us to love Him with our hearts. He wants us to care. He wants us to keep His love and commandments on our mind. It’s not enough for us to say we love Him. It’s not enough for us to give to the church. We have to mean it. Nothing in this world can substitute our wholehearted commitment to Him.

Commitment means obedience, commitment means prayer, commitment means thought put into your relationship.

You may have that special someone. And you may not be able to spend time with them right now. You may not be able to give them expensive gifts. You may not be able to take them on dates. But if they know that they have your heart (your commitment)- your relationship will last.

With God, you may not have many talents to give Him, you may not have the years to give Him just as a younger person could, and you may not have any special skills to offer.

God only wants your heart. He wants your love, your commitment, and your full obedience and reverence.

It doesn’t matter who you are, that you can give. That, you can always give.

“And thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Deuteronomy 6:5

 

 

You weren’t in the trenches

I was being tempted to waste my time, and the temptation was strong. Considering the position I found myself in, I gave up. Temptation being that strong, I just decided right then and there I wasn’t going to fight it. I know it sounds convoluted, but I found I could muster up enough strength to do my devotions first and I had sorta decided I’d waste my time doing purposeless things later.

In my devotions God spoke to me. I found new strength and will to fight my selfish desires, and I did not waste my time afterwards.

That day I learned a lot about myself. You see, I didn’t have the strength to make the decision to fight the temptation head on, but I knew where to find it. God strengthened me, and I escaped. But my whole attitude was off.

I had convinced myself that I was helpless against temptation once it became strong to a certain extent. It’s almost as if I had courage against little trials, but I couldn’t imagine putting in the effort to overcome big ones.

It reminds me of a verse in Hebrews 12, it says,

“Ye have not yet resisted unto blood, striving against sin.”

Think about that.

The word “resisted” there, means to line up for battle.

Imagine coming back from a fight, a battle, a war- without a scratch. Usually, if a person doesn’t have a scratch on them, they weren’t involved. Essentially, the writer of Hebrews is saying,

“You didn’t get in the trenches”

“You didn’t fight”

“You haven’t begun to fight”

I think that applies to many of us. A lot of times we sin because it’s convenient, or because we feel like it. The addiction is too strong, we say.

I would suggest to you, that we aren’t feeling the pain that our sin causes.

We’d rather live comfortably, than live purely.

Our sin is tolerable to us, our discomfort is not.

This is the crux of the issue.

I challenge you to follow after God. Make Him the ultimate need in your life. Don’t live comfortably with sin.

Resist. Unto blood.

 

 

Jesus didn’t heal some people

I think we talk a lot about the people Jesus healed. And he healed a lot of people. But there were some He didn’t heal. Obviously some never came to Him, but some did, and he did not heal them. The Bible doesn’t spend a lot of time taking about it, but still, it is mentioned. And I think it’s important to understand.

In Luke 5, we are told, “But so much the more went there a fame abroad of him: and great multitudes came together to hear, and to be healed by him of their infirmities. And he withdrew himself into the wilderness, and prayed.”

Christ had people all around him, they were hungry to hear His words. They were anxious to be healed. They wanted His power in their lives . . .

And He left.

That doesn’t quite sound like the Jesus we all hear about.

I think we imagine Jesus healing people constantly, nonstop. Whoever came, Jesus gave them His full attention. But this was not the case. It says here, that this time, Jesus withdrew himself.

In order to understand why Christ wasn’t healing and teaching, I think we must examine what He was doing. He was going to get some private time with God. Christ needed communion with the Father.

Let me give you an observation.

If God needed some peace and quiet in prayer when he was here, you do too.

Our society is filled with workaholics, super soccer moms that never take a break, pastors working themselves to exhaustion, our way of life is business to the point we forget our purpose and our perspective.

We get so involved with our work, our ministry, our family, and the needs of others, we forget our most basic need- God.

Jesus recognized that He needed a break. He needed to recharge. He needed the fellowship of the Father.

And why?

So he could minister to those people who needed him.

He didn’t take a break for Himself. He took a break so He could give of Himself again.

Let me exhort you, you can’t give any more when you’re empty. Sometimes you need to look away from the need around you, and recognize the need within you. If you aren’t able to recharge in the presence of God, you will be burned out.

Workaholics may eventually find themselves without purpose other than work. Super moms can run so ragged they can no longer give to their family, and they find themselves feeling exhausted and unfulfilled. Pastors can lose their way, and become susceptible to spiritual attack.

“But they that wait upon the LORD shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Wait on the Lord. Listen to His leading and calling. Perhaps you might need a refuge in prayer. Perhaps you might need to leave the need around you, and let God fill the need within you.

Don’t look at your feet!

 

Sweat bands, running shoes, compression clothing

Electrolyte enhanced drinks and orange slices.

It’s a race! The runners take off from their marks and begin to flash towards the finish line.

Hebrews 12 compares our Christian life to a race. In this race it tells us we should run, “Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;”

He’s the author and the finisher.

I know for myself, I forget the finisher part. I think over and over, that God shows me what’s wrong, and then its just up to me to fix it. But this isn’t the case. The thing is, once I decide to fix it- with wonderful intentions of course, I’ll begin to look at my actions, attitudes, feelings, wrongdoing, and whatever else I can find. I look to my own self so much, I stop looking at God.

That’s no way to win in the Christian life. You don’t look at your hands when you shoot a basket. You don’t look at your legs when you kick a goal. You don’t look at your feet when you run a race. You don’t look at yourself when you live your Christian life.

It may seem right to try to deduce what went wrong, where the wrong thinking was, how you got to be so out of line. Sometimes examining these things is very helpful, but we must remember it is not the solution to the problem.

 

God is the solution.

No matter how hard we think about our problems, we can’t fix them. We need God to transform us. We need God at the center of our lives. If we will look to Him, and focus on His plan for us, and His will for us; we will probably be surprised how easily things work out.

Putting God at the center of our lives, humbly asking Him to change us is the only way to ensure genuine lasting change in our lives.

Won’t you do that today?

You can mourn, or you can dance. But please do one.

My 8 yr old head was pressed against the school bus window, I was staring at the side of road as it blurred past. Every time the old bus hit a pothole, my head would bounce off the window, only to smack against it again. Over the radio I could hear some sad sounding pop song playing. This particular one, played an awful lot.

“Would you dance, If I asked you to dance?” and later on the singer would ask, “Would you cry, if you saw me crying.”

Smack! The bus hit a pothole again, and my head hit the window. Perhaps I can remember this all so clearly because I had hit my head so much. Maybe it was something else.

I remember thinking, that if I loved someone. I’d cry with them. If I loved someone, I’d dance with them. I would share their pain and their joy. It resonated with me. I could not imagine a close friend for whom I did not ache when they were in pain. And I could not imagine not laughing with them when they had joy.

You share emotion with those you love.

In Matthew 11, Christ is berating those who rejected Him. He says that they are like children who are talking to their friends. The children say,

“We played the flute for you, yet you did not dance; we wailed in mourning, yet you did not weep.” (Mt 11:17 NET)

Christ explains his illustration. When John the Baptist preached without eating usual food or drink, the people said he was possessed. When Christ preached while eating and drinking the people said He was a glutton and a drunk.

God had extended Himself in two very different ways, and yet the people would not hear Him. They had no desire to relate to the truth. They refused to see past their ignorance. And why was that?

They didn’t love God.

They never wanted Him. They refused to hear Him. They refused to hear His solemn message of judgment. They refused to hear His tender message of love. Their hearts would not be moved. They would not be reached.

Christ knew He had been offering a relationship to a people that had no desire for Him. There was nothing for Him to do concerning these people.

Is there something in your life you need to address? Has Christ been calling out to you? Would your heart listen to His?

Would you mourn with Him over your sin? Would you dance with Him because of His love?

You can do either, or both.

But if you close your heart to Him and feel nothing, you will lose much.

When you’re in love . . .

I have never heard someone who was completely in love, obsess about something they really wanted- while in the presence of their love. When you’re with your special someone, the whole world seems right. Suddenly that muscle car, new pair of jeans, newest smartphone, or whatever else you desire- doesn’t seem so desirable. You are with your love- what else do you need?

You might still want a good steak, or a nice purse, or a new pair of sunglasses- but you don’t obsess about them. You are perfectly content. You are in love.

Now let’s take a look at Hebrews 13:5, “Let your conversation be without covetousness; and be content with such things as ye have: for he hath said, I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee.”

It tells us that our conversation (meaning lifestyle) should be without covetousness. We should be content. We’ve all heard this before right? Be content. Don’t be jealous of others. Don’t be obsessed with what you don’t have.

But Why?

Did you catch the reason?

God has said, “I will never leave thee”

God promised to spend eternity and whatever beyond with you. He will never leave you. Never.

That’s why we should be content.

The God of the entire Universe will share every moment of our lives with us. He loves us. He died for us. He made us so He could enjoy us. He is our purpose for living. Our true love in every sense. He will never leave us.

Why then, do we obsess about pleasing ourselves through the emptiness of things on this earth? The living breathing God, wants us. Is standing next to us. Is relishing every moment with us. And we run after things.

I challenge you, be content with the things you have.

Not because they are enough. Not because you will make yourself miserable if you run after what you don’t have.

No,

Be content, because the God who loves you, will always be with you.

What more could you ever want?

Running out?

I was finishing up my first mile of the night, last quarter- I got the sense I should push through. Run it out. Sprint. Go all out! I began to run, but I wasn’t giving it everything. My run wasn’t like a sprint. It wasn’t like my normal sprints.

Perhaps it was because I had already run 3/4s of a mile I thought. But that wasn’t it. It dawned on me, that I was holding back, because I was afraid if I gave this mile my all, I wouldn’t have energy left for the second.

Immediately, this reminded me of my Christian life.

There have been countless times, that I’ve considered my life, and thought to myself: “God, if I give you control of all my money, I won’t have enough to do what I want to do. If I give you all my time, I won’t have time to do what I want. If I give you all my energy, I won’t have energy for what I want to do.” This thought has come to me over and over.

Even when I make life plans, I hold back.

In the back of my mind, I’m scared.

If I give everything I have to God, will I have anything left?

I challenge you, don’t ever allow yourself to be held back by fear. God loves you more than you can know. He wants the best for you, but He won’t give you all His blessings if you will not give Him all your allegiance.

When you give your everything to a workout, you have more to give next time. It’s the same with God. Give God control of your everything, and watch how He gives back to you.

“The generous soul will be made rich, And he who waters will also be watered himself.” – Proverbs 11:25

God promises that generous people will increase in what they have. How much more when we are generous towards Him!