Building Bridges of Emotional History by Pastor Don
This was an incredible Bible study tonight. Sometimes Pastor Don touches on a topic that is something I am struggling with at the moment and he breathes a breath of fresh air into my life. This topic was brought up spur of the moment. I, one day, want to know the Bible so well that I too can teach spur of the moment.
You have heard about Friday Bible studies – our Wednesday night studies start out with praise and worship – sometimes a worship team, sometimes Joy plays keyboard and sings, other times others sing and praise. After we sing and praise God, Pastor Don brings forth the prayer requests and we pray for those who have called in prayer requests and any requests from those in attendance. Tonight one of our members spoke about a wonderful reunion with her son, who had been estranged for quite some time. Pastor Don had been counseling her on forgiveness, and over Christmas her obedience to God in the area of forgiveness led to a reconciliation that blessed us all to hear about it. Then someone asked a question about forgiveness and Pastor Don decided that this was the topic to teach on. I was so blessed by this teaching and I pray that this also blesses you.
Pastor Don pointed out that besides our bodies, we are also made up of Spirit and Soul. Our soul is our mind, will, and emotions. People today have been trying to downplay willpower, but we need to develop willpower to obey God. Our will, will determine which direction we will go. And so often we operate by what we feel, but we have to be careful about feelings – we want to have feelings that are in line with the Holy Spirit.
Pastor Don then pointed out that God has feelings, we are not to grieve the Holy Spirit, God told Moses he had to work up anger at these people (the Israelites), there is the joy of the Lord, and Jesus wept, etc.
When we become born again we want to plug our spirit in with the Holy Spirit so that our emotions are tied to what God feels. The problem we face is that our flesh man wants to be the boss, but we do not want to give in to the flesh, we want to be led by the Spirit.
But we need to be honest. Pastor Don asked us, haven’t you ever gotten so mad and you wanted to be mad, felt you were justified in the situation and wanted to hold onto your anger? Someone tells you to calm down (the Holy Spirit tells you to calm down), but we say, “I don’t want to calm down, I want to be furious. I have a RIGHT to be furious.”
We can’t have spiritual maturity when we are captives of our emotions. So often the Holy Spirit tells us to go right and our flesh says, “no, go left.”
We need to realize that nothing good dwells in our flesh, that left to ourselves we can act dumb and stupid and feel justified in doing so.
So often in our lives, when there is a break in a relationship, it generally starts out with a little upset that gets fanned into a great divide. Emotional breaks usually begin with small triggers and then build on the small triggers and over time it is off to the races. It then turns into a he said, she said situation.
Pastor Don told us about a couple who came to him for counseling – where their situation had escalated to a serious level, and when they finally sifted through the mess it turned out to be that both parties were overstressed. The whole episode could have been avoided if they had gone to the gym and worked out an hour.
The excess stress could have been worked out in the gym instead of being cast at another person. Pastor Don asked us when we are angry, if we ever go to the bathroom, look at the mirror and scream at ourselves? No, we take it out on someone else. He also pointed out that a burnt bridge can take years to repair, whereas working out the excess anger in the gym takes one hour.
It is natural to have tension in our lives, God gave us relationships and allows us to reach points of tension and stress because that is what allows us to build strength. With life comes problems. It is not Biblical or healthy to go through life without strife. resolution without conflict is mediocrity. You don’t plumb the depths of love without the pressure of life.
Luke 11:2 So He said to them, “When you pray, say: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be Your name. Your kingdom come, your will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
To be emotionally sound we need to recognize that the only perfect place is in Heaven. We want that perfect Heaven manifested down here on Earth. Those who work with computers know that they are not perfect – they can lose data, shut down, need rebooting, etc. What is down here on earth is chaos. We get upset when we believe that the lie that we deserve peace and quiet and perfection here on earth. Most of the time life is a mess.
All of us go through life under great pressure, and often get upset when people or the Holy Spirit tells us to chill out. Jesus was able to live a life of ease under pressure. Is there a war going on in you? Heaven is a place of perfect peace and I want some of that perfect peace here on earth.
Pastor Don noted who was in the Bible study tonight and said, that all of us in this room have seen a two-year-old throwing a temper tantrum, watched them, and said, “uh, hah, a temper tantrum.” We did not let the child’s temper tantrum destroy our peace or get upset with it. We did not get caught up in the temper tantrum, throw ourselves down on the floor and join the child, etc. We just loved the child and let the temper tantrum run its course, so that the child could gain better control of himself.
That’s where Jesus wants us to get to, the point where the chaos of the world does not affect us any more than a two-year-old’s temper tantrum does. When the people get excited and upset around us, we don’t have to play. Of course we also have to be careful what we respond to those people. We don’t have to be pulled into their upset situation, but we can point out to them that we are there for them and care.
Bridges are built or destroyed depending on whether or not we ignore or agitate a situation. We want to keep the peace and tend to their needs. Jesus was calm when the disciples were upset that the children wanted to come to Him, he told the disciples to let the children come; when Blind Bartimaeus called out to Him- the disciples wanted him to be quiet, but Jesus let him come to Him for healing; in tempest tossed storms Jesus was calm, and when he got angry at the Pharisees and moneychangers he calmly wove a whip to drive out the animals- his anger was under control.
Pastor Don told us never to get into an argument without carefully choosing the battlefield and the situation.
Luke 11:3 Give us day to day our daily bread. And forgive us our sins, for we also forgive everyone who is indebted to us. And do not lead us into temptation, but deliver us from the evil one.
We need stuff in life, and we can trust God to provide. But in order for God’s provision to flow freely, we must forgive. We gain emotional stability by forgiving. Forgiveness is an act of the will. We will to forgive, but we may not feel forgiving. We are not expected to feel the forgiveness, we are just to forgive in obedience to God. As we forgive in obedience and keep doing so in obedience, our feelings will line up with the fact of the forgiveness.
Mark 11:25-26 And whenever you stand praying, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.
Someone then commented (I love our Bible studies because Pastor Don encourages us to share and this was a wonderful night of sharing in such a way that it built on the study.) What if there is someone in my life that you forgive, and then they play you again, forcing themselves into your life, sending notes and letters and ultimately hurting you again. How often do you forgive them. Pastor Don mentioned that we forgive them in obedience to God, forgive them to God, but if they are going to keep hurting you, you do not have to bring them back into your life in a way that permits further hurting. For example, if you know someone who constantly steals from you when they are in your house, you forgive them, but you are not required to let them into your house so they can steal again.
And notice that this follows Mark 11:23-24 For assuredly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, ‘Be removed and be cast into the sea,’ and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that those thins he says will be done, he will have whatever he says. Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them.
Notice, this passage says “SAY.” You do not have to feel forgiveness when you say it, just say it and your feelings will follow. Unforgiveness and bitterness is a huge mountain that needs to be cast into the sea. Believe by faith that you forgive the person, and believe then that God forgives you. You do not have to believe that you love the person who hurt you so, or believe that you care. Just believe that if I say, “I forgive you” that they are forgiven. You don’t have to like them, you don’t have to reconcile (unless the Holy Spirit directs you to), just love them as a brother and sister in Christ and be nice.
What you are saying is that I choose by faith not to punish you anymore. So often unforgiveness is our attempt to punish a person for what they have done to us. We are thinking that they hurt me and I want to hurt them back. Jesus pointed out that when we do this we are murderers, Matthew 5:21-24 You have hard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder,’ and whoever murders will be in danger of the judgment.’ But I say to you that whoever is angry with his brother without a cause shall be in danger of the judgment. And whoever says to his brother, “Raca!” shall be in danger of the council. But whoever says, “You fool” shall be in danger of hellfire. Therefore if you bring your gift to the altar, and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your gift there before the altar, and go on your way. First be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift.”
Romans 12:19 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written ‘Vengeance is Mine, I will repay,’ says the Lord.
If I make myself angry at you, if I focus on how mad I am at you, it does nothing to you. Most often the person is not aware or doesn’t care about how you feel. All you end up doing is committing suicide to your self. It hurts your physical and your spiritual self. And if you get mad at a person over a misunderstanding and decide not to talk with them, all they do is write you off as a nonentity. You do not end up hurting the other person with your unforgiveness, you just hurt yourself.
You have to make a decision to believe God. The word of God requires us to forgive, so we forgive. We are not to expect the other person to respond to our forgiveness, the forgiveness is not for their sake, but for God’s sake.
Until we let go of unforgiveness we can’t reap the benefits of what letting go of unforgiveness does. We forgive out of our heart, but it must be spoken with our mouths. God releases forgiveness with our mouths. Now, at times it is not appropriate to go directly to the person who hurt us (unless the Holy Spirit directs us to), so we can forgive them to God. Or if a person who hurt us has passed away, we can forgive them directly to God. (Heather’s note, I had to do that with my parents, for they were dead when I realized I was holding on to unforgiveness and bitterness). We forgive them to the Lord.
Pastor Don had us say, “I’ve been given a ministry of reconciliation.” We are to reconcile people back to God.
Someone mentioned being constantly hurt by a person. Pastor Don pointed out that when we get out of the mix, remove ourselves from the situation in forgiveness, then God can be a vindicator of the person. There is a fine line between faith and foolishness. We can’t put words into God’s mouth. The process of the heart catching up to what we are believing for is the message of faith. Often we have to forgive the person first without our hearts following, and then over time – sometimes years- we finally come to a point where we look back and realize that we really have forgiven the person.
Sometimes we mechanically walk the Christian walk, but we don’t have to feel it in our heart. The Word says we do it, so we do it. We don’t have to feel it, we don’t have to want to do it, we just have to obey.
The most difficult (Heather’s note, and I can attest to this) is when we hold God in unfaithfulness. Attributing blame to God for something He didn’t do. Someone on earth hurts us very much and we attribute the blame to God, figuring He should have stopped it, or that He doesn’t care. God is a safe place to vent anger. Most often when we are hurting we pray and don’t seem to get an answer from God, so we figure we can vent at Him because He doesn’t hear us anyway.
We then come to a point where we depend on our self (that wasn’t God’s plan for us). We end up in an emotional bondage and meltdown, but we brought it on ourselves, but want to attribute blame to someone, and God is good for that. He feels safe.
Someone pointed out that people often ask us, where was God when that terrible thing happened. Pastor Don said that when people who are parents ask him that question, he says to them, has anything bad ever happened to your child? Of course every child falls down and hurts their knees or gets hurt by another person or child. When they admit to that, you say, where were you when they were hurt? The truth is, unless you keep your child in a cage, they are going to get hurt in living their lives. We need to give them the freedom to grow and make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. God does that with us. Gravity works on earth, and we all come up with the consequences of gravity.
Luke 11:5-8 And He said to them, “Which of you shall have a friend, and go to him at midnight and say to him, ‘Friend, lend me three loaves, for a friend of mine has come to me on his journey, and I have nothing to set before him’; and he will answer from within and say, ‘Do not trouble me; the door is now shut, and my children are with me in bed; I cannot rise and give to you’? I say to you, though he will not rise and give to him because he is his friend, yet because of his persistence he will rise and give him as many as he needs.
We have to be persistent in action to heal that which is broken. Forgiveness is required, but we are not required to reconcile every relationship. Reconciled means to be rejoined to them, or reconciled to an understanding, acceptance and understanding that this is the way it is. Sometimes we have to communicate from a distance, sometimes we need to reconcile with God for that person and not contact them in person. It really depends on the situation. We are not required to reconcile face to face with an abusive person or put ourselves into danger to reconcile with a person.
Pastor Don said that when we forgive even those who have died, there is a reconciliation in the realm of the Spirit. Not like the TV shows about speaking with the dead want to indicate, but there is a host of angels surrounding us who will convey to God and to the person in spirit the forgiveness.
When we are persistent in reconciliation, it must happen. And then bridges can begin to rebuilt.
Luke 11:9-10 So I say to you, ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.
Faith works in human relationships. When bridges are broken down, we ask God to renew the relationships. We often break down our bridges because of error, and most often, when the error is discovered it isn’t a good reason.
Pastor Don gave a personal example of how one day he stepped out of his office, thinking about the service that was about to happen, planning the last minute messages, and there were lots of people coming and going in the church lobby. He did not notice a person and come over to say “hi” and give her a hug, he just didn’t see her in the mix of people. She took offense, figured it was something personal he had against her, and started backbiting and spreading negative messages about Pastor Don. He asked her what the problem was, explained that he does not always notice everybody all the time, she still took offense and decided to leave the church. To help restore a relationship you need to find the root cause, and the cause is often linked to something vacant inside of ones self. This woman had a need in her for constant affirmation, a sense that without that she was not complete.
Pastor Don then pointed out that to rebuild a bridge you often have to pray for the person or find the lie that went into the situation that broke the bridge in the first place. We need to pray to help us see the person as God sees them.
One person in our group mentioned that she had to pray for her husband’s ex-wife, and when she would pray words would come out that were not particularly loving, so she ended up praying in tongues for her, then God would give her the interpretation of the prayer so that she could learn how God wanted her to pray for this woman.
Luke 11:17 But He knowing their thoughts, said to them, “Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation and a house divided against a house falls.
In hearts holding unforgiveness, our hearts are divided and we end up divided against ourselves. If we harbor unforgiveness which is the tool of the devil or bitterness, it turns and destroys us. God can’t elevate a person when unforgiveness and bitterness is in their hearts.
Some churches are emotionally broken. They judge their worship by the emotional performance, and while outside it seems so emotional and focused toward God, they are really hiding a rage within. Sometimes what we think is passion is really bitterness and rage and competition.
If we keep the word and keep asking, the Holy Spirit can work within us.
Luke 11:24 When an unclean spirit goes out of a man, he goes through dry places, seeking rest; and finding none, he says, ‘I will return to my house from which I came.’
Once we speak words of forgiveness with our mouth, we can’t remain in unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment and anger. These are evil spirits (unforgiveness, bitterness, resentment, anger) who will come seeking to reenter the host (us). When we allow unforgiveness, resentment, bitterness and anger to rule us, it rots us out from the inside. It can lead to sickness and death. We can tell when we have fully succumbed to these feelings when we begin to think that the whole world is this way, that everyone is like that, and that people will constantly let us down.
People keep coming to church because it is a fertile place to hate people, to be vulnerable. People who want to hate people don’t go to bars to do so. In a bar, you chalk up behavior as a person being drunk. In church we see people in their sober state, and the real person is there.
God uses church to help us to learn to deal with other people and to treat them the way God wants us to treat them. We learn to love others because God says we must love others, not necessarily because we want to love them or because they deserve to be loved.
Luke 11:28 But He said, “More than that, blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.”
We are blessed when we are obedient and keep His Word, whether or not we feel like it.
Luke 11:29 And while the crowds were thickly gathered together, He began to say,, “This is an evil generation. It seeks a sign, and no sign will be given to it except the sign of Jonah the prophet.”
The announcement was made by Jonah, and the people had the choice to respond or not. We are wrong to forgive someone and expect them to give us a response back. If we forgive someone, we cannot expect them to extend forgiveness back to us, or respond in any way. The forgiving we do is for God, not for the other person.
Luke 11:33 No one, when he has lit a lamp, puts it in a secret place or under a basket, but on a lampstand, that those who come in may see the light.
Our forgiveness shines like a light in the dark world. People will notice that there is a change in us. They will notice that we are always looking to fix bridges.
We have to get to that place where, no matter what the devil throws at us, we still work to fix bridges. When we decide to do that, expect that satan will try to pull us off course. The devil will try to cause division and trouble. But we will persist as bridge builders.
Luke 11:40-41But rather give alms of such things as you have; then indeed all things are clean to you.But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.
We cannot succumb to a spirit of offense. When a person offends you, we clean it out with forgiveness. Jesus in another passage talked about the Pharisees being clean on the outside, but dirty on the inside. Jesus wants us to focus on the inside, on the relationship with God, the important things like forgiveness and love. To give the other person the benefit of the doubt, to figure that they messed up and extend forgiveness. To not return evil for evil.
Someone mentioned that this is good for small things, but what about atrocities like the rape and murder of a child – how can the parent be expected to forgive. Pastor Don pointed out that they still need to forgive in order to gain liberty in Christ. That what helps is to see that the real perpetrator is satan acting through the person, not the person themselves. Also to know that when we step out of the way and forgive them, it leaves the field open for God to deal justice to the person. As long as we hold them in unforgiveness, we block God’s ability to act.
Luke 11:42 But woe to you Pharisees! For you tithe mint and rue and all manner of herbs, and pass by justice and the love of God. These you ought to have done without leaving the others undone.
We need to do the whole of the law, not just the external details like the Pharisees. God will see that justice is done. The devil doesn’t want us to forgive, he wants as much evil as possible in the earth. He knows he will end up in the lake of fire and wants others there with him. People want to take their pound of flesh, but God wants us to forgive.
Then God speaks of various woes.
Luke 12:4-7 And I say to you, My friends, do not be afraid of those who kill the body, and after that have no more that they can do. But I will show you whom you should fear. Fear Him who, after He has killed, has power to cast into hell; yes, I say to you fear Him! Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore, you are of more value than many sparrows.
We forgive because God hates unforgiveness. God knows what is done to us and he knows what we do. We need to obey God.
Luke 12:22 Then He said to His disciples, “Therefore I say to you, do not worry about your life, what you will eat; nor about the body, what you will put on.”
If we are not worrying about life, then we will not have bitterness, anger, unforgiveness. We won’t have to worry about what is happening to us, knowing that God has things in His control.
Luke 12:30-31 For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.
This passage speaks for itself. Seek God, and the rest follows.
Luke 12:57-58 Yes, and why, even of yourselves, do you not judge what is right? When you go with your adversary to the magistrate, make every effort along the way to settle with him, lest he drag you to the judge, the judge deliver you to the officer, and the officer throw you into prison.
When do we try to settle? on the way.
Luke 12:59 I tell you, you shall not depart from there till you have paid the very last mite.
Pastor Don pointed out that if you are wronged, still do not judge another person, lest that person then complains to God about you and your judgment. If we are wrong, then God will be judging us on our wrong conclusions. If we step out of the way, God will rightly judge the situation. That is why it is never good to return evil for evil, but rather seek to do good.
Romans 12:19-21 Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath, for it is written,Vengeance is Mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore, “If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good.
When we return good for evil we can sometimes turn the situation around, or if that is not possible it does confuse the person who is doing evil. A hot coal burns and eats their mind, causing confusion. They cannot understand why you would do good when they have done evil. In some circumstances it can even lead to reconciliation. It is like killing with kindness.
Praying that we can all cultivate forgiveness in our lives, what a great goal for the New Year.
Have a blessed day!
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