Friday, June 25, 2010

Am I Angry?

Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice: And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you. Ephesians 4:31-32
In the brain, the amygdala, |əˈmigdələ|, is the part of the brain that deals with the processing and memory of emotional reactions. It wants to do something, and the time between a trigger event and a response from the amygdala can be a quarter of a second. But at the same time, blood flow is increasing to the frontal lobe, specifically the part of the brain that's over the left eye. This area controls reasoning and is likely what's keeping you from hurling a vase across the room. These areas generally balance each other out quickly; according to some research, the neurological response to anger lasts less than two seconds. This is why you get a lot of advice about counting to 10 when angry.
Anger's physical side effects explain why you frequently see studies about the damage that this emotion can do to our bodies. In one study of almost 13,000 subjects, individuals with the highest levels of anger had twice the risk of coronary artery disease and three times the risk of heart attack, as compared to the subjects with the lowest levels of anger. Some scientists think that chronic anger may be more dangerous than smoking and obesity as a factor that will contribute to early death. (How Stuff Works a Discovery Channel)
How does God want us to handle our anger?
How can Christians express their anger? Some say that anger should be given over to such actions as beating or bitting a pillow. Is it true that feelings must be expressed in this kind of display? Should Christians ventilate their feelings? Some medical authorities say that incorrect handling of stressful situations can cause any one of at least 50 physical diseases. The medical term for physical ailments that start in the mind as stress and that result in real physical ailments is "psychosomatic." The word "psychosomatic" is the combination of the Greek words for "mind" and "body."
What can a Christian do to release feelings of anger? Is there a Christian way to vent feelings of anger? To answer these questions, it is necessary to consider whether or not anger is sinful. Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be angry, and sin not: let not the sun go down upon your wrath.". If there has been a misunderstanding, and it can be resolved by talking through the problem with the other person(s), that is wonderful! However, the idea that problems always can be solved by communications, or be solved before bedtime, denies the reality of the old nature in the believer. If by communications one person asks the other for forgiveness, forgiveness must be granted, “ Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven” Matthew 18, 21-22. Angry feelings can be decreased, or even eliminated, in the one who receives or grants forgiveness.
Forgiveness is one way that believers can work through their feelings of anger. Even if the other person is far away or is not willing to talk about the problem or will not ask forgiveness, the believer can still be obedient to the command of Mark 11:25, to forgive. And when ye stand praying, forgive, if ye have ought against any: that your Father also which is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses.

In Mark 11:25, forgiveness is commanded any time--and at the very time--that an offense is remembered. The offender may be a great distance away, may not be repentant, and may even be rejoicing in his sin planning more bad behavior. The offense may have occurred today, yesterday or many years ago. God's command is to forgive (release it to God) upon the instant of remembering the offense.
Thought: To rid yourself of angry feelings by the prayer of forgiveness is a provision of His goodness. He has provided a way that we need not carry feelings of anger within, that we need not store up offenses or suffer illnesses caused by stressful thinking and unforgiveness. The pressure to react sinfully to the offenses of others is taken away because we can choose to respond to the prayer in which we forgive.

Friday, June 11, 2010

What is Prayer?

And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him. Matthew 6:5-8

What motive does God have in mind when asking us to pray? Can you imagine preferring your will, based on your limited knowledge and foolishness, above God’s? Can you conceive wanting anything other than the will of our all-wise, all-good, heavenly Father? The power of God in our lives comes through prayer which strengthens our daily walk with Christ and grows our faith.
Listen to King Hezekiah praying under the threat of the Assyrian invasion. He reminds himself that God is enthroned on the highest of thrones, He made heaven and earth, and He can handle the Assyrians.
 (Isaiah 37:14-16,20)
And Hezekiah received the letter from the hand of the messengers, and read it: and Hezekiah went up unto the house of the LORD, and spread it before the LORD. And Hezekiah prayed unto the LORD, saying, O LORD of hosts, God of Israel, that dwellest between the cherubims, thou art the God, even thou alone, of all the kingdoms of the earth: thou hast made heaven and earth.
Now therefore, O LORD our God, save us from his hand, that all the kingdoms of the earth may know that thou art the LORD, even thou only.
Hear Jeremiah strengthening his faith as he begins by recalling God’s great power in creation and then quickly realizes ‘Nothing is too difficult for Thee and nothing is hid from Thee.’
 (Jeremiah 32:17-19) 
Ah Lord GOD! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee: Thou shewest lovingkindness unto thousands, and recompensest the iniquity of the fathers into the bosom of their children after them: the Great, the Mighty God, the LORD of hosts, is his name, Great in counsel, and mighty in work: for thine eyes are open upon all the ways of the sons of men: to give every one according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings: 
The early church suffered persecution resulting in Peter and John’s arrest. What did they do? They prayed. They built their faith by recalling the wisdom and power of creation. 
(Acts 4:24,31)
And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is:
And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness.
Why is it so hard to pray sometimes? Because of unbelief. What can we do? Jeremiah, Hezekiah, and the early church reminded themselves of God’s power and greatness. They praised God for who He is, humbling themselves before Him, and in the process, enlarged their faith. 

Thought: Prayer is a time of praising and admonishing the sovereign God of this universe. Humbling ourselves before the One whose power in creation makes nothing to difficult for Him. In prayer, God changes us through His lovingkindness, mercy and grace. What is prayer? The place where God’s power is praised, His benefits are past finding out, and His strength gives faith.