Once Again, I have shortened these articles for your ease.
Written by Dale Ebel
God speaks through our emotions! The emotions expressed in tears of sadness and the emotion of gladness. After Nehemiah and the Israelites rebuilt the wall of Jerusalem under great opposition and threat of life, Nehemiah makes a most magnificent statement:
“…for this day is holy unto our Lord: neither be ye sorry; for the joy of the LORD is your strength.”— Nehemiah 8:10 KJV
The psalmist draws attention to the emotion of joy that was present in the people when entering the Promise Land led by Joshua.
“And He led out His people with joy and gladness, His chosen ones with a joyful shout.’– Psalm 105:43 NASB
From the above two verses we see that the emotion of joy authored by the Living God is a source of strength and is a celebratory outcome of being used by Yahweh.
Emotions Are Tied to Belief and Unbelief
Emotions are the subject of much controversy, but they fall into two basic categories: negative and positive. One is vital to surviving and the other is vital to thriving. Negative emotions, such as fear, keep us out of trouble. Positive emotions such as hope, get us out of trouble. These emotions are not simply attitudes but deep down, they are spiritual in nature.
Negativity (unbelief) can keep us out of the Promised Land and cost us 40 years☹
30 “But Caleb tried to quiet the people as they stood before Moses. “Let’s go at once to take the land,” he said. “We can certainly conquer it!” 31 But the other men who had explored the land with him disagreed. “We can’t go up against them! They are stronger than we are!” 32 So they spread this bad report about the land among the Israelites:”—Numbers 13:30-32 NLT
The unbelieving who gave a negative report were part of the generation who could not enter the Promised Land. The writer of the Book of Hebrews attributes their negativity to unbelief.
“And so, we see that they were not able to enter (His rest in the promised land) because of unbelief.”— Hebrews 3:19 NASB
There is an optimistic dimension of belief!
“And without faith it is impossible to please [Him,] for the one who comes to God must believe that He exists, and [that] He proves to be One who rewards those who seek Him.”– Hebrews 11:6 NASB
• What are you believing God for? Be specific☺
Many Christians are resorting to pessimism in view of what is transpiring in our nation and in the world. In what ways are you projecting hope because of your trust (belief) in the sovereign hand of God. Please be specific☺
Professor Simon Baron-Cohen of the Autism Research Center at the University of Cambridge has identified 412 emotions with corresponding facial expressions. (Look to Dea Birkett, “I know Just How You Feel,” Guardian, September 3, 2003.)
Robert Plutchik, professor emeritus at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has identified eight basic emotions: joy, trust, fear, surprise, sadness, disgust, anger and anticipation.
All our emotions stem from one of the most amazing parts of the human brain called the amygdalae. The amygdalae are the almond shaped clusters of gray matter inside each cerebral hemisphere involved with the experiencing of emotions.
The amygdalae (I love saying that word☺) remains quite a mystery, but we know that it is the seat of emotions and is intimately involved in decision making and memory making. As a general rule of thumb, the stronger emotions result in tougher decisions, deeper resolves, and longer memories.
Perhaps this is why the “fear of the LORD” is so pivotal in our walk with God?
“28 Since we are receiving a Kingdom that is unshakable, let us be thankful and please God by worshiping him with holy fear and awe.”—Hebrews 12:28 NLT
No matter how many emotions we have, each one is a function of the amygdalae and a facet of God’s image imprinted upon us at conception. (Genesis 1:26, 27)
I know that emotions can get a bad rap when it comes to decision making. I was raised in Campus Crusade for Christ where facts and faith preceded feelings, and, rightfully so. Feelings were frowned upon because they were considered unreliable.
But emotion is a great backseat driver if we’re delighting ourselves in the Lord.
And if we are honest with ourselves, emotions play a huge part in our walks with Christ.
This brings me to describe how the positive emotion of joy influenced me to bring me to Linda, my beautiful wife. The Holy Spirit gave us this powerful life and altering verse:
“Delight thyself also in the LORD; and he shall give thee the desires of thine heart.” – Psalm 37:4 KJV
When I first saw Linda Schellack, my heart leaped for joy. Of all the gals on Summer Staff she was a cut-above! Embarrassingly, I was part of a group of 5 guys who would periodically make evaluations of the girls joining summer staff at Arrowhead Springs in the summer of 1967. We worked on “Summer Staff”, and we were joining 180 others to serve over 10,000 participants at Conference in San Bernadino, California, which was the headquarters of Campus Crusade for Christ. I figured it out and we were paid about 9 cents an hour☺
Followers of Christ came from all over the world to attend. It was a movement of the Holy Spirit that was part of the greatest Jesus Movement in the United States in the 60’s. We prayed with Christ followers from Indonesia, South America, Europe and beyond! Hal Linsey taught us the Book of John until the Six-Day War broke out between Egypt and Israel. Then he taught us prophecy! Billy Graham spoke at the dedication of the 1,000 seat outdoor amphitheater that we helped build! Every week we went to the beaches in Southern California, and the neighborhoods in Palm Springs, and the city of San Bernadino to share our faith cold turkey! It was the closest I have come to a revival and a movement of the Holy Spirit! We were unaware of the magnitude of God’s manifestation and what was transpiring in our very presence, and across the nation.
“I have heard everything about you, LORD. I am filled with awe by your amazing works. In this time of our deep need, help us again as you did in years gone by. And in your anger, remember your mercy.”— Habakkuk 3:2 NLT
As the guys mused in the San Bernadino Hotel piano room over the new recruits, the overwhelming consensus was that Linda Schellack from Oklahoma was THE most beautiful gal to join our summer staff. I, however, had not seen her yet.
One early afternoon a week or so later, I spotted her from high on top of the San Bernadino Hotel. She was dazzling to the eyes even from that distance and my first thought was, “NO Way, she is completely out of my league.” Only in my dreams would God grant me the desire to love a woman like her, let alone her reciprocate my love.
For years I have described the Providence of God as:
The Hand of God in the Glove of Circumstances.
It was God’s Providential Hand that brought us together in the events that followed. For now, I will only say that God gave me Psalm 37:4 which is now inscribed on the inside of our wedding bands to this day. I simply had a difficult time believing that as I was delighting in the Lord Jesus Christ, He was giving me all these wonderful desires, and emotions for her. I was staggered at such pleasure, delight, and the reality that God was giving and granting me the fulfillment of those desires and emotions. It changed the trajectory of my life and the understanding of the ways of God forever.
Sometimes Uncomfortable Emotions are Necessary
To ignore discomforting emotions is to ignore God’s voice. God speaks through the emotions of sadness, tears of anger, and even feelings of righteous indignation! If we don’t get mad at injustice, unrighteousness, and false ideologies that oppose God, then our emotions aren’t fine-tuned to our heavenly Father (Deuteronomy 16:22). Those emotions must be channeled with right actions to thwart evil, for without them wickedness goes unchecked (Ezekiel 3:8-11). Our hearts should break for the things that break the heart of God (Lamentations 3:23; Romans 9:15). Our anger ought to be the anger that God has (Psalm 2:12 NIV). Whether it’s the voice of sadness, anger, or gladness…don’t ignore those emotions but act your way through them to accomplish God’s redemptive purposes. God is speaking to you through them. (You might consider looking up the verses above!)
Do you remember what the Apostle Paul did when he was deeply distressed by the idolatry he saw in Athens? He didn’t boycott the Areopagus, did he? He walked in, went toe to toe with some of the greatest philosophical minds in the ancient world, and competed for the truth.
Using our God-Given Emotions to Face Our Present Challenges
These last four years I have been righteously distressed at the false teachers, in and outside the church who are propagating false ideologies. I have the emotion of disgust with “progressive Christians” who are embracing destructive lies and supporting them in the Name of “Jesus.”
They usually embrace these heresies because they interpret the Scripture allegorically and not literally. As a response, I spent a year writing articles and talking to churches regarding the tyrannical movement called Black Lives Matter, and the doctrine of Critical Race Theory. I have attempted to channel my emotions in contending for the truth.
If the Church of the Lord Jesus Christ does not speak into our culture, who will?
I join in with Jude who said, he was much more eager to talk about things that were faith affirming (positive), rather than controversial issues that call for contending, (potentially considered negative) and defending the faith. For many Christ followers they simply do not address anything difficult regarding our walk with Christ. I understand how “contending” can be disconcerting. However, I personally do not believe I can live with that luxury and false sense of security. Therefore, I have also chosen to practice both, “contending” for the truth, and “affirming” the truth (Philippians 1:7).
“Dear friends, although I was very eager to write to you about the salvation we share, I felt compelled to write and urge you to contend for the Faith that was once for all entrusted to God’s holy people”— Jude 1:3 NIV
Please look to my extensive, accurately researched writings on my blog: daleebel.org, addressing the Social Justice Movement. The dates range from November 2020-March 2021.There are about 12 articles and most of them are lengthy, so I advise you to break them into pieces and digest and integrate them in stages. They are a challenge to read but they are vital to understand. I believe you will discover the information to be extremely useful. If not now, I know it will be in the future, and especially for the next generation—your kids and grandkids.
Tolerance Above Truth? Really!
The challenge is that we live in a culture where tolerance has been elevated above truth. It’s considered wrong to say that something is wrong, and I think that is wrong. I certainly want to be known more for what I’m for than what I’m against and I believe people would say that of me. But to think that everybody is right, and nobody is wrong is as silly as pretending that everybody wins, and nobody loses. When truth is sacrificed on the altar of tolerance, it might seem as though everybody wins, but in reality, everybody loses. God calls us to a higher standard than tolerance. It’s called truth and it’s always coupled with grace.
If we aren’t willing to listen to everything God has to say, we eventually won’t hear anything He has to say. If we want to hear His comforting voice, we must listen to His convicting voice. And it’s often what we want to hear least that we need to hear the most.
Additions to your gladness portfolio:
- The first recorded emotion that God expresses is the word “good.” “Good” comes from the Hebrew word tob. It’s joy unspeakable. It’s pure delight!
Who have you called good in the last week?
- Seeking God includes delighting yourself in Him.
What are some recent times when you have found delight and joy in Christ?
- Eric Liddell of Chariots of Fire fame said to his sister: “When I run, I feel His pleasure.” What brings you pleasure?
- Listen to the voice of gladness. “Glory and honor are in his presence; strength and gladness are in His place.”– 1Chronicles 16:27 KJV]
When was the last occasion you voiced your gladness in the Lord and to the Lord?
- Serving with joy: “Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing.”– Psalm 100:2 KJV
In your service to Christ describe your exuberance. How was it manifested?
Additions to your sadness portfolio:
- The emotion of grief spurred Paul to pray. “But Paul, being grieved, turned, and said to the spirit, I command you in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”—Acts 16:18 KJV
Describe your grief for something that causes the Lord Jesus Christ sorrow.
- With the emotion of anger, the Lord was moved. “And when He had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, ‘Stretch forth thine hand.’ And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.”— Mark 3:5 KJV
On what occasion were you biblically angry?
God-given gifts are what we’re best at. God-ordained desires are what we’re most passionate about. And the place where those gifts and desires overlap is the sweet spot.
When do you most live in your sweet spot?
Observations from what I am seeing in the Christian Community here in the Northwest:
It is safe to say that in the last three years there has been a lot of emotions being aroused among and between Christians. Below are some of the subjects I have seen to arouse Christians. If you’ve been involved in these issues how have you attempted to bring biblical truth to the issue?
- to wear a mask or not to wear a mask
- does the State have an ulterior motive to control?
- are Trump’s past personal immoral behaviors equal to Biden’s evil policies on abortion and transgender affirmation, and are they worthy of division?
- are progressive Christians really Christians?
- is all division in the body of Christ bad? Or are some divisions a sifting process to discover who really are true followers of Christ?
- are world affairs tantamount to Globalism?
- how do we address the transgender issues especially when it is a member of our own family?
- How do we talk about churches that have embraced Wokeism?
You can probably add to the list, and I suggest that you attempt to address the issues and additional questions like this from a biblical perspective.
I am realizing that there are at least two categories of Christ followers in our present culture:
The first group: There are those who are not addressing the challenges and controversial subjects of the day. They are Christ-followers who are pursuing other important biblical subjects and are advancing God’s Kingdom paying little attention to what is being voiced in the public square.
The Second Group: Are Christ-followers who are demonstrative, outspoken, and biblically opinionated about what is happening in the broader culture and what we ought to be doing as Christ-followers to confront the secular trend in our society.
Both are necessary!
I have been very upfront about where I stand. If you have read my articles, you will see how I have chosen to address many of the current situations. It will be sobering, enlightening, and rewarding see how God has assessed our decisions and our actions when me meet Him.
“His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’”– Matthew 25:21 ESV
I conclude by attributing some of my inspiration from the fabulous author Mark Batterson. His books have been a source of strength, encouragement, and empowerment for many years. Please avail yourself to the depth of his knowledge and love for Christ. Go to MarkBatterson.com. for a listing of his titles.
To the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord,
be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, Amen.