“For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven: a time to weep, and a time to laugh; a time to mourn, and a time to dance; a time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; a time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; a time to keep silence, and a time to speak; a time for war and a time for peace” (Ecclesiastes 3:1-8, ESV).
A healthy Christian family is where each member is free and encouraged to fully experience their emotions. Indeed, our responsibility as Christian parents goes far beyond feeding and clothing our children before going to school or church. We need to teach them to manage all their emotions in a healthy and biblical way.
It starts with our own learning as the adults. Managing your emotions means being able to recognize them, understand them, identify them, name them and express them in order to channel them appropriately. We must continually learn not to suppress or deny our emotions, but also to not let them dominate or define us.
What we are unable to express or what we repress will imprint on us and eventually depress us. Managing emotions is a huge challenge for everyone. Indeed, our human nature is rich in a panoply of emotions and feelings that intermingle every day and throughout the seasons of our lives. The Bible does not deny the ugliness, intensity, beauty or duality of our emotions.
If you have never prayed this way for yourself, your spouse or your family, I invite you to do it simply and sincerely: “Lord, I recognize all the harmful feelings and emotions that are in me. I don't deny them. Help me identify them. I give them to you. Come and extend your thoughts, your fruit into my heart by the Holy Spirit. Come revive this gift in me. Help me live with a measure of love, peace, patience, kindness, joy, self-control and gentleness that will spread an atmosphere of healing in my heart and within my family. In the name of Jesus. Amen!”
This week, don’t forget that the most intense, beautiful life emotionally and spiritually in your relationships is living as a child of God who fully experiences all the emotions that God has created.
Claude Houde is the lead pastor of Eglise Nouvelle Vie (New Life Church) in Montreal, Canada. Under his leadership New Life Church has grown from a handful of people to more than 3500 in a part of Canada with few successful Protestant churches.
“Then Jesus spoke to them again, saying, ‘I am the light of the world. He who follows me shall not walk in darkness, but have the light of life’” (John 8:12, NKJV).
Jesus was and still is the light of the world. John says this light was produced by the life that was in Christ: “In him was life, and the life was the light of men” (John 1:4). Simply put, the life that Christ possessed was his source of light to the world, and all who believe “shall have the light of life” (John 8:12). What is the “life behind the light” that scripture speaks of?
Most of us think of this life as the eternal existence that’s embodied in Christ. We see it as his power to bestow eternal existence on all who believe, but John is talking about even more here. When he uses the word “life,” he is speaking of the whole biography of Jesus’ existence.
Jesus tells us that we are to live as he did. For us to be as Christ was in the world, his life has to be something we can know and experience for ourselves. It has to relate to our own lives.
I want to tell you how I relate to the life that is in Christ. I rejoice in the kind, little things that Jesus did and spoke. I believe his everyday deeds, words and walk with the Father are meant to define the meaning of the Christ-life to us.
I think of Jesus’ friendship with Lazarus. I think of him as he retreated from the multitudes after a long period of ministry. I think of him as he relaxed in the home of Mary, Martha and Lazarus. I think of Jesus taking the little children into his arms and blessing them. I think of his obedience to his mother even as a grown man when he turned water into wine at the wedding feast. I think of Jesus’ love and care for the scorned, the unlovely, the poor. I think of his compassion for the woman caught in adultery or his honoring the widow who had only two mites to give.
In these passages, we find the ways we are to relate our lives to Christ’s. This is how we are to live a life that is in the light.
“Thou preventest him with the blessings of goodness: thou settest a crown of pure gold on his head” (Psalm 21:3, KJV). At first glance, this verse by David is a bit puzzling. The word “prevent” is usually associated with a hindrance, but the modern translation here would be, “You meet him with the blessings of goodness” (NKJV).
The biblical word for “prevent” meant “to anticipate, to precede, to foresee and fulfill in advance, to pay a debt before it is due.” Furthermore, in almost every instance, it implied something of pleasure.
Isaiah gives us a glimpse of this kind of pleasure. It comes from God anticipating a need and fulfilling it ahead of time. “It shall come to pass, that before they call, I will answer; and while they are still speaking, I will hear” (Isaiah 65:24, NKJV).
This verse provides us with an incredible picture of our Lord’s love for us. Evidently, he is so anxious to bless us, so ready to fulfill his lovingkindness in our lives, that he can’t even wait for us to tell him our needs. He jumps in and performs acts of mercy, grace and love toward us; and that is a supreme pleasure to him.
That is just what David was saying in Psalm 21. “Lord, you pour out blessings and lovingkindness on me before I can even ask. You offer more than I could even conceive of asking.”
David was referring to some awesome work that God performed for him both in the natural world and in the spiritual realm. God gave David victory over his enemies, answers to prayer, overcoming power and unspeakable joy; and he did much of it before David could even go to prayer, unburden his heart or present his request. Once David finally did pour out his heart, he discovered that God had already made provision to defeat his enemies. David’s victory was assured before he could even get near the battlefield.
As Christians in Paul’s day sensed the destruction of Jerusalem drawing near, they wanted to know more about prophetic events. They were fearful about rumors concerning the ruthlessness of invading armies who took multitudes captive into slavery. It caused these believers to sense that perilous times were close at hand. They asked Paul to tell them more about what was to come and how to read the times.
Paul responded with these words of assurance: “But concerning the times and the seasons, brethren, you have no need that I should write to you. For you yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so comes as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:1-2, NKJV).
Rather than focus on trying to predict the future, Paul urged them to be encouraged by what would take place when Christ returned. “For the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And thus we shall always be with the Lord. Therefore comfort one another with these words” (1 Thessalonians 4:16-18).
Paul was essentially saying, “There’s no need for you to be overly concerned about all the fearful signs and calamities. You well know what this is about. It’s all signaling the coming of the Lord Jesus to take away his people.”
The truth is that history is going somewhere. We can be sure that the swift current of unfolding events today is carrying us toward God’s eternal purpose. The world is not adrift; the Lord hasn’t abandoned the earth, no matter how wicked and faithless humankind has become. Rather, God has simply picked up the pace. What we are seeing now is a swift movement of events toward the “one divine event” ahead: the re-creation of a new heaven and earth where Christ will reign supreme for all eternity.
As followers of Christ, our focus is not to be on daily news reports. We are not to dwell on wars and rumors of war. When Jesus said, “Now when these things begin to happen, look up and lift up your heads, because your redemption draws near” (Luke 21:28), he tells us where our focus should be.
After scripture tells us about Job’s horrific losses, we’re told that God comes to him and says, “Look now at the behemoth [the hippopotamus], which I made along with you” (Job 40:15, NKJV) and a little later, “Can you draw out Leviathan [the crocodile] with a hook? Or snare his tongue with a line which you lower?” (Job 41:1).
Why would God include these two massive monsters in his revelation to Job? Why would God have Job look into the faces of a hippopotamus and a crocodile?
First, the Lord posed this problem to his servant: “Look, Job. Here comes the hippopotamus after you. What are you going to do? Can you wrestle him down with your physical strength? No? Maybe you can try to sweet-talk him. Now, behold the crocodile that’s threatening you. How will you handle him? This creature has a heart of stone. He has no concept of mercy.”
This was more than a simple lecture about the animal kingdom. God was telling Job something about life’s “monsters.” He was showing his servant that these two awesome, ferocious, overpowering creatures represented the monstrous problems raging in Job’s life.
“Consider the hippo. He tramples down everything in sight. He’s simply too big a problem for you to handle, Job. You are no match for him whatsoever. Nothing you can do will tame him. Only I, the Lord, know how to stop such a monstrous creature. And what about the crocodile, Job? No human can do battle with such a creature. Nobody in his own strength can strip the crocodile of his thick armor. The same is true of your spiritual enemy, the devil. Only I can win the battle with him.”
Do you hear what God is saying in his speech in Job 41:1-11? He’s speaking not just to Job but to all believers. He’s declaring, “Face the truth about the monsters in your life. You can’t handle them. I’m the only one who can.”