Our Pastors have been leading us on Wednesday nights to consider Scripture as the Authority for our lives. It is becoming more difficult in our culture not to invest our feelings — especially if we are not in the Scriptures, with the final authority for life. We plod along counseling with ourselves making decisions based on how we feel about this or that outcome. I find when I counsel with myself the questions I ask are aimed at what is the easiest, most convenient, most comfortable, least demanding course to take.
Beyond that, the trouble with relying on my feelings as the anchor for my life is that they do not hold steady! They are fickle and change in a moment without good reason — or any reason! I can “feel” disciplined and self-controlled in the morning and decide that it is right to make healthy eating choices as a way to honor the temple of the Holy Spirit. That feeling can sustain me for awhile and then come the afternoon hours and my mind begins to bring me new counsel! I begin to “feel” different than I did during the morning. Now, I think it is time to reward myself and indulge my desire for junk food. That “feels right and true” because the decision is based on the change that has occurred from morning to afternoon.
The path of following feelings is like being lost on the back roads of West Virginia–you wind and wind and get nowhere. Counseling with my thoughts and feelings is disappointing because they are not unchanging absolutes as we find in Scripture. The unchanging, sufficient Word of God is authoritative! Soaking and submitting to God’s thoughts make for a straighter more direct path through life.
I was reminded of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones’ warning regarding making your feelings your god.
“Avoid the mistake of concentrating overmuch upon your feelings. Above all, avoid the terrible error of making them central…for you will be doomed to be unhappy. What we have in the Bible is Truth; it is not an emotional stimulus…and it is as we apprehend and submit ourselves to the truth that the feelings follow. I must never ask myself in the first instance: What do I feel about this? The first question is, Do I believe it?” ((D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, Spiritual Depression: Its Causes and Its Cure, (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1965, reprinted 2001), 20.))
May today be the day when rather than asking myself what I feel about this or that–I ask, “Lord, based on your Word–the anchor for my life, what must I believe about this?”
Yesterday, I launched a 12 week fall Bible study at my church. About 20 women gathered and there was much excitement as we opened chapter 1 and began to unearth the gems contained there. I am glad to be studying with these women and eager to consider the essential role of the Holy Spirit in spreading the good news about Jesus. Luke is so precise–such a researcher–and committed historian. He records the events that allow us to observe people being changed from the inside out! When thinking about that change I remembered these thoughtful words:
“Is it really possible to change?…The word “really” is the issue. In many people’s minds, change must be nearly complete–at least dramatic–or it doesn’t count…If efforts to restore a drab marriage lead only to a flicker of warmth, then perhaps it hasn’t really changed…Evangelicals sometimes expect too much or, to put it more precisely, we look for a kind of change that God hasn’t promised…We manage to interpret biblical teaching to support our longing for perfection.
As a result, we measure our progress by standards we will never meet until heaven…We therefore claim God’s power as the guarantee of total change from pressure to peace, from disappointment to joy–and then live with an intolerable burden that either crushes us with despair or requires us to pretend we are better than we are. The idea that peace and joy might merely support us during times of struggle and sorrow rather than eliminate those times is not appealing.
We want to do away with the necessary pain of living in a disappointing world as imperfect people. We insist on experiencing neither pain nor failure, so when the inevitable happens, it becomes reason for discouragement. But there are unnecessary problems that develop when we insist that necessary pain be eliminated…If we were convinced that the trauma of learning to trust God would really change us, we might be willing to endure it. But real change is available now; it’s just not the kind of change we want. We insist that the real change that heaven will bring (an end to all pain) be ours today. That insistence is the problem that we must overcome if real change that’s possible now is to occur.” ((Larry Crabb, Inside Out, NavPress, 1988, 203-205))
O Father, you are the Potter; I am the clay–it has never occurred to me before that my desire to change–my hopes for moral renovation might be rushing your timetable–or that it springs from a root of pride that wants to look better in other’s eyes right now! I sense, that through Acts you will teach me to want the change you want to do in me! What an adventure it is to live under the molding influence of your Spirit. Amen
“Now the Spirit of the LORD had departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD tormented him. Whenever the spirit from God came upon Saul, David would take his harp and play. Then relief would come to Saul; he would feel better, and the evil spirit would leave him.”
1 Samuel 16:14;23
When the Spirit of equipping power left Saul he was left with such a moral vacuum that it scared him to death! Into that vacuum rushed every scarey thought that can take a sane person captive.
Fear of failure – of defeat; of loss of influence; of being disregarded by those who used to value you; fear of being alone. His torment was so evident that his servants took notice and tried to help the King find relief. Can you imagine?
The mighty king, so paralyzed by the spirit of fear that he needed to rely on the wisdom of his servants to find a path of relief. Into the discord and disharmony that fear created comes the harp playing, anointed David. He, with the Spirit’s presence, brought harmony and refreshment to Saul’s troubled heart.
How powerfully this reveals the call of God to Spirit indwelt believers! We enter into service to the fear-filled, tormented world playing a harmonious melody that refreshes and relieves panic in others. That harmony is created not by our efforts but by the very presence of God’s Spirit within us! We are vessels of grace to a scared world.
Lord, today please use me to bring harmony out of discord. Spirit, move me out of self imposed solitary pursuits and into the world seeking to relieve and assist others to feel better! Show me who I might serve today Lord. Give me a song of relief for your people! Amen