Emotion vs. Will


Chapter 7  Your emotions do not make you a hypocrite.

Hannah hammered on this concept twice in “The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life,” so here’s the second round.

Once I started to live a life of trust, I hesitated to say, “I am completely the Lord’s,” because I feared it wasn’t true. I won’t always feel that my surrender is true, but God doesn’t seek my feelings. He wants my will. I have surrendered all of life to Christ, committing to trust in him. This will not always show in my emotions but can persist in my will.

When you consider your emotions to be the test of what is true, you’ll often feel like a hypocrite in declaring things to be real that only your will has decided. Your emotions, though, do not define who you are. Your will decides this.

Say “I will believe; I do believe! I choose to believe!” Make up your mind to believe what God says simply because he says it, disregarding any feelings to the contrary. Don’t be troubled about your emotions. They will, sooner or later, come into harmony with your will.

You can’t always control your emotions, but you can control your will. Only your will needs to be surrendered to God. In the past, your will has been under the control of sin and self. Now, though, God has called you to yield your will up to him so that he may take control of it. How do you do that?

When faced with sin, pray, “I will never again consent in my will to yield to this sin. Take possession of my will, Dear Lord, and work in me.” You may find deliverance immediately. You may have to ask repeatedly. Either way, keep your will surrendered to him, and you will be freed.

Two questions determine whether or not you are living a live hidden with Christ.

  • Have you decided in your will to believe him?
  • Do you choose to obey?

If the answer is “Yes,” then you are in the Lord’s hands. This transaction with God is just as real in his sight when your will acts alone as when every emotion agrees.

We don’t need to be concerned about our feelings, but only the state of our will. Then all the scriptural commands to yield ourselves to God, to present ourselves a living sacrifice to Him, to abide in Christ, to walk in the light, and to die to self become possible for us.

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.

Trust and Worry; Oil and Water

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Chapter 6  Choose to have faith.

Faith is simply believing God when he says he’s done or will do something for us. Then we trust him to keep his word. We trust other people to accomplish tasks for us on a regular basis, leaving matters entirely in their hands. We eat in restaurants, hire babysitters, book cars, and board planes. We couldn’t live normal lives without trusting other people. Shouldn’t we be even more willing to trust our God?

Someone might say, “I only believe in what I can see and feel and touch.” That can’t really be the case for any of us. Otherwise, every time we looked at any news outlet, we’d have to lay it aside, saying, “I don’t believe a word of this since I have no faith. I can’t believe there is any such person as so and so, because I’ve never seen him. And how can I even believe a particular country exists?  I’ve never been there.” That would, of course, be ridiculous. Our friends and family would be insulted as well, when we stated our lack of faith in their promises.

Does it make any sense at all to believe man’s assertions and not believe God’s? Could we rationally commit our dearest earthly interests to weak and failing humans, yet remain afraid to commit our interests to the Savior who laid down his life for us?  Consider this:

  • Trust and worry are no more compatible than oil and water. When we believers really trust the Lord about something, we can and should cease to worry about that very thing.
  • Do you love the Lord Jesus? Then show others how worthy he is of being trusted by demonstrating your faith in him.
  • You have trusted him in a few things, and he has not failed you. Trust him now for everything. He will do more than you could even imagine.
  • You trust the management of the universe and of all outward creation to the Lord God Almighty. Can the complexities of your life be so much more difficult than that?

Dare to abandon yourself to power of the Lord Jesus. Make this a matter of your will, and simply choose to do so. Say, “I will believe. I can trust my Lord, and I will trust him, and nothing will make me doubt my wonderful, glorious, faithful redeemer.”

Every act of trust will make the next act less difficult. In time, trusting will become like breathing, a natural and unconscious response to the will of our loving Lord.

Begin today!

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.

Facts First, Faith Second, and Feelings Last of All

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‘Heading back to Hannah W. Smith’s work for a few weeks…

Chapter 5  Get the facts first.

Most of us live life ruled by a roller coaster of feelings, with our faith lagging behind in second place and all facts about God coming to mind last of all. God’s way is just the opposite: facts first, faith second, and feeling last. We need to live this way, learning the facts about him, then accepting by faith what we don’t yet feel.

In Bible times, the Jewish people brought their offerings to the altar and left them there. If anyone had set down a gift then, feeling uncertain, had turned around and grabbed it back, those looking on would have gasped in dismay. There was no going back. Yet, day after day, many of us, with no thought of the sacrilege we are committing, do something very similar. We give ourselves and all our concerns to the Lord in solemn consecration and then, through unbelief, take back all we have given him. The Bible tells us salvation and our daily walk are to be by faith. Therefore, we must believe before we feel, and often even against our feelings.

Are you wondering if you really belong to the Lord? Maybe, because you don’t feel any different, you doubt. The Bible tells us that if we ask anything according to God’s will, he hears us, and gives us what we ask of him.[1] Is it his will that we be entirely surrendered to him, that he use us according to his plans? Of course. So, according to God’s word, when we ask God to take over our lives, he hears us and says “yes” to our request. And when we ask God to take control of a particular issue in our lives, fearful feelings do not mean that we have failed to give the matter over to him.  

If you’re still uncertain as to your place with the Lord, ask the Holy Spirit to show you all that is contrary to him in your heart or in your life. If he brings anything to mind, give it to the Lord immediately and say, “Your will be done.” If he shows you nothing, then believe that there is nothing and conclude that you have given him all. Try praying this, “Lord, I am yours; I give you my all, and I believe you accept me. Do your will in me, and I will trust you.” Don’t wait to feel that you have surrendered your life—and every detail it entails—to God. Believe it to be true. If you are steadfast in this belief, sooner or later the feeling will come.

[1] “If we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. And if we know that he hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have what we asked of him” (1 John 5: 14b-15).

This work is a revised and condensed version of Smith, Hannah Whitall.  The Christian’s Secret of a Happy Life. Boston: Willard Tract Repository, 1875.

Blessings and Barbeque

(Penned several weeks ago…)

It’s been six years, almost to the day, since I felt overwhelmed with uncertainties—big ones about my health, my home, my children. Steve and I were spending a month in Austin at the time, and we indulged that Sunday in a Gospel Brunch at the famous-then-defunct-now Threadgill’s BBQ.

I wish I could remember the name of the group singing that morning. And I hope I thanked them when they were done. Their music was beautiful, varied, and entertaining. But it was the lyrics of “Great Is Thy Faithfulness” that calmed my soul, particularly this line:

All I have needed thy hand hath provided.

Today those old uncertainties have long been resolved, recently replaced by new ones that bothered me for several weeks—rather big ones once again. This morning, as if on cue, our church worship band led us in singing “Great Is Thy Faithfulness.” My eyes leaked happy, grateful tears as I surveyed His faithfulness to me over the last 6 years and again over the last ten days. In two short, prayer-soaked weeks so many uncertainties had become items of praise, or at least of peace.

So, I beg you, look past the “thee’s and thou’s” of this grand old hymn and let the lyrics strike at your own uncertainties and fears. Surely, the loving faithfulness of our Father will meet your every need. I’m here to tell you I’ve seen it in my own life.

Great is thy faithfulness, O God my Father,
there is no shadow of turning with thee.
Thou changest not, thy compassions, they fail not;
as thou hast been, thou forever wilt be.

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!

Summer and winter and springtime and harvest,
sun, moon, and stars in their courses above
join with all nature in manifold witness
to thy great faithfulness, mercy, and love.

Pardon for sin and a peace that endureth,
thine own dear presence to cheer and to guide,
strength for today and bright hope for tomorrow,
blessings all mine, with ten thousand beside!

Great is thy faithfulness!
Great is thy faithfulness!
Morning by morning new mercies I see;
all I have needed thy hand hath provided.
Great is thy faithfulness, Lord, unto me!*

*By Thomas Chisholm, now in the public domain
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Tangled by Beth Smith

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When I sew, I hate it when my thread tangles up between the cloth and the needle. Most of the time, I just have to cut it, take out stitches, rethread the needle, and start over.

Have you ever been fishing and gotten your line entangled around an underwater tree branch? The only way to free the line is to cut it, losing the hook, bait, and bobber.

When I was about six years old, my cousin Norma and I went to a movie. Norma was chewing a big wad of bubble gum. She got tired of chewing it and couldn’t figure how to get rid of it, so she stuck it in my hair! Now, that was the worst of all tangles. I had very short hair for a while.

Sometimes our lives are tangled messes. We get tangled up with sin in our lives.

  • The sin of worry,
  • of neglecting our Lord Jesus,
  • of gluttony,
  • of lust,
  • of selfishness…

We’re so easily drawn into the trap of sin. Look at these verses:

“For the Lord sees clearly what a man does, examining every path he takes. An evil man is held captive by his own sins; they are ropes that catch and hold him (Proverbs 5: 21-22 NLT). Ever feel trapped like that? I do. If you could look at me today, I’m sure you’d see some rope.

The more we lapse into sinful behavior, the more lies we tell to cover it up, or the more we listen to Satan’s lies about our situation. Isaiah 5:18 (NLT) warns, “What sorrow for those who drag their sins behind them with ropes made of lies.”

How can we cut those ropes? By confessing them to God and letting him forgive us. The Lord will rescue us from every trap and become our place of safety. He will comfort us and free us.

Did you get all of that? Jesus is our way to freedom from all the tangled messes in our lives. When we’re being held captive by anything—poverty, fear, sadness, ill health, anger, lust, selfishness…He offers us release. No prison can hold us if He frees us. According to the Bible in John 8:36, if we choose Jesus as our Lord and Savior, he will set us free and we will be “free indeed.”

We’ll all have heartaches and difficulties until we die. But choosing God means we’re never alone in our difficulties. They will not hold us captive. With Jesus Christ in us, we know  everything is going to be okay, even if the “okay” scenario isn’t the one we would choose.

God is the only one who can untangle us and set us free. Hebrews 12:1 (NIV) tells us to, “Throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles.” We can only do that by his power. Once we give ourselves to him, all the other tangles and snarls can be undone.

One More Try

My apologies! I don’t know why today’s post came through with so much blank space. In case you gave up before scrolling waaayyyyy down, here’s a second attempt:

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I remember a poster that said something like “Everything I Ever Needed to Know I Learned in Kindergarten.” Along that note, let me share what a savvy preschool teacher learned in childhood and later slowly taught her pupils, adding one line each week until they could say the whole thing by heart. (You could do that too!) And, please note, I have been unable to find the source. If you wrote this, or know who did, please say so!

Jesus! He’s got the power!

To make salvation mine,

To turn the water into wine.

He made the bleeding STOP!!

He made the lame man hop!

He made the blind man see,

He set the shriveled hand free.

He made the bent woman stand,

And fed 5,000 in the land!

He told the storm, “BE STILL”,

And walked on water at will.

He made the dead to rise,

And for us he died,

To wash our sins away,

So we can live with God one day.

Jesus is my King!! He’s my King as well. And I’m in the process of memorizing this poem. I have no doubt it will be a go-to replay in my mind during troubled times. ‘Hope you’ll let it soak into your soul as well!