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.

More about Mustard (by my mom, Beth Smith)

Back in my day, teenagers, including me, were wearing mustard seed jewelry, usually one tiny seed in a clear plastic ball attached to a bracelet or necklace. You were really in style if you had one! It came with a card that had Matthew 17:20 printed on it. Jesus said, “If you have faith as small as a mustard seed, you can say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.

Well, personally, I didn’t move any mountains, but the mustard seed and the verse did help me learn that faith is important and powerful. I grew up thinking if things went well, I had faith. If things didn’t go well, it was my fault for just not having enough faith. That’s not true at all! The Amplified Bible describes faith as, “trust and confidence that springs from our belief in God.”

Maybe you’re thinking, “I guess I just don’t have faith.” If you’ve accepted Christ as your Savior, you do. The Bible says in Ephesians 2:8, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith.” (Don’t get a big head about having enough faith to accept Christ. It was, after all, God’s grace that gave you the faith to believe.)

2 Corinthians 5:7 says, “For we live by faith, not by sight.” The New Living Translation puts it this way, “We live by believing and not by seeing.” The world says, “Seeing is believing.”  The spiritual world doesn’t work that way. First we must believe, then we’ll see. Our aim is to trust God and his Word without demanding any other evidence.

But how in the world do we do that?

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God” (Romans 10:17 KJV). When we really know who God is, we can believe. We find out who he is by reading his Word and spending quiet time with him in prayer.

In Matthew 14:28-31, Peter walked on water, but then he felt the wind, became frightened, and he began to sink. Jesus reached out and saved him and said, “Oh you of little faith. Why did you doubt?” We waver for the same reason that Peter did. We forget who God is and what he is like. Sometimes we stop thinking about him altogether. We forget that:

  • He loved us before we loved him.
  • He loves us all the time.
  • Nothing can separate us from that love.

When we believe those truths, our faith becomes firm and grows just like the tiny mustard seed that, under the right conditions, becomes a mighty tree.

So, grow your seed! Be rooted in a healthy understanding of God’s love and grace, watered by the reading of his Word, and fed by a constant practice of faith.

“So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness” (Colossians 2: 6-7).

photo credit: @jlanzarini via Unsplash.com

Pure Gold by my mom, Beth Smith

Early prospectors during the gold rush were fooled into thinking they’d found real gold instead of something called iron pyrite, worthless rocks with flecks of shiny material in them. So many were fooled that iron pyrite became known as “fool’s gold.” I want you to know where our real gold is—where we have a neverending supply of genuine gold—in the Word of God.

Remember the crippled beggar to whom Peter said, “Silver and gold have I none, but such as I have give I you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6 KJV). What did the cripple do? He went “walking and leaping and praising God.” He received far more than he asked for. Would he have traded his healing for a truckload of gold coins? Of course not! Here’s a bit more from the Bible regarding gold.

  • The law from your mouth is more precious to me than thousands of pieces of silver and gold” (Psalm 119:72 NIV).
  • I love your commandments more than gold, more than pure gold” Psalm 119:127 NIV).
  • Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable that silver and yields better returns than gold” (Proverbs 3: 13-14 NIV).

Are you a bit timid about mining gold from the Bible? If you don’t have a modern or revised version, I recommend that you get one and try it out. That can make a big difference.

Another important thing to remember as we go into our gold mine, the Bible, is that we do not go alone. John 14 says that the Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth. Ask him to help you understand what you are reading! The Greek word for the Holy Spirit is Paraclete, which means “one who is called along side to help.” He will help us if we allow him to.

On more than one occasion, I’ve “just happened” to read a portion of the Bible that was exactly what I needed in that moment. God will do the same for you. The next time you read a verse that makes you think, “That was for me,” you can be sure it was God at work. Our gold mine is filled with power for living in God’s world, in God’s way. “Every Scripture was given to us by inspiration from God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives; it straightens us out and helps us do what is right. It is God’s way of making us well-prepared at every point, fully equipped to do good to everyone” 2 Timothy 3: 16-17 (TLB).

It’s time for us to think not “Thar’s gold in them thar hills,” but, “thar’s gold in this here Book.” (It hurts me as an English teacher to write that way.) It’s not fool’s gold, but the real McCoy. So pull out your Bible and read on!

photo credit: @zlataky via Unsplash.com

How Good Is Your Memory?

Every time I re-read portions of the Old Testament, I’m astounded by the way the Israelites got caught in this loop:

  1. Cry out for help. (For example, “Let us out of Egypt!)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like parted seas.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re thirsty!”)


  1. Cry out for help. (“Give us food!”)
  2. Experience God’s miraculous provision. (Like manna from heaven.)
  3. Find a reason to complain. (“We’re so sick of eating the same old thing!”)


But I have grumpy days, don’t you? I feel sorry for myself or evaluate my lot in life and decide it doesn’t measure up to someone else’s. I long for something I don’t have and forget for a while all God has done and all I’ve been given. I’ve seen miraculous provision in my own life, so how am I any different from those Israelites? I am ashamed to admit that I can get tired of manna too.

I was knocked upside the head by this quote not long ago: “If God never did one more thing for you, you ought to be the happiest person in the world.” (I heard it in a TV sermon, but don’t remember who was preaching.) Oh my, yes! When I step back from my doldrums and recount the miracles in my own life and in those of my loved ones, I realize any one of those gifts from God should be enough to keep me rejoicing until eternity. How quickly I can forget!

So, today, I want to leave you with this verse, Psalm 42:6, from The Message.

“When my soul is in the dumps, I rehearse everything I know of you.”

Has God ever done anything for you? Then, next time you find yourself grumpy or dissatisfied, refresh your memory! I plan to do the same.

Photo: Nam Anh on Unsplash.com because “an elephant never forgets,” or so they say.