Do Not Throw Away Your Confidence

Having confidence in your identity in Christ can be challenging in our culture.  Society often discourages people from seeking to live a life that is godly.  Society loves to encourage us to be moral, but morality is set by the standards of people who do not know Christ.  It can make a difference.  Knowing who you are in Christ and maintaining your confidence of who Jesus is to you will be a key to living a victorious Christian life.

DO NOT THROW IT AWAY

Faith 2Depending on the Bible translation you are reading, Hebrews 10:35 states that we are not to cast away, or throw away, our confidence.  The same verse goes on to say that our confidence has great reward.  Knowing who we are in Christ and knowing that He is for us will keep us from falling when trying times come.

If you continue reading, you will find that the writer of Hebrews encourages the readers to keep the faith and encourages the development of patience.  The believers to whom the book of Hebrews is addressed had faced a great deal of persecution.  Their homes, property, and personal belongings had been confiscated by the government because they proclaimed the gospel of Jesus Christ.  Many of them had been imprisoned.  Others had been martyred for the cause of Christ.  The writer of Hebrews commended these people because they had been through a great deal of persecution and remained strong and steadfast, but another trial of sorts had come upon them when the letter of Hebrews was written.

The Scriptures are not specific as to the trial these people were facing at that time, but the writer was encouraging them to keep their confidence.  They were encouraged to remember that God would reward them for their faithfulness.  They were reminded that the just must live by faith.

THE JUST SHALL LIVE BY FAITH

Knowing who we are in Christ and keeping our confidence will require walking by faith.  God is pleased with our faith in Him.  He can and will do powerful works through us to bring glory to Himself if we will remain yielded to Him.

As you are reading this post, you might be discouraged.  You might be ready to throw in the towel, so to speak.  I am not necessarily talking about backsliding.  I am talking about giving up on your work for the Lord.faith 1

I am encouraging you to remain confident.  Be confident in Jesus!  Be confident in what He is doing in you.  He will continue the work he began in you when you first believed in Him.  Be confident in who you are in Him but aware of who you are without Him.  Living by faith requires more boldness than living a normal life, but you were not called to be normal.  You were called to stand out.  You were not called to throw away your confidence.  You were called to walk by faith and be confident in Christ.

BE ENCOURAGED

Whatever you are facing, know that your faith pleases God.  Even when your faith is weak, keep pressing on, confessing it to the Lord.  He has ways of strengthening your faith.  He will not forsake you.  Do not give up because the Lord will bring you out victorious!  “The Lord is a warrior.  The Lord is His name (Exodus 15:3).”

Do not throw away your confidence.  There is much that would be thrown away with it if you did.  Keep going on this way because there is no other way that brings light and victory.

Encourage Yourself

I completed this blog about a year ago, but I felt the need to share it here today.

 

Are you feeling discouraged lately?  Maybe you feel let down by people you are close with, or, perhaps your circumstances in life never seem to get better.  If anything, life seems to take a decline into the worst possible scenarios.  Truth is, I have faced those times, and, often, I still see those days.  Everyone gets discouraged.  The question is: what will you do about it?

 

David Encouraged Himself in the Lord

Encourage yourself!King David, the author of many of the Psalms in the Bible, had to encourage himself in the Lord. David was anointed by the prophet, Samuel, to be King over Israel, but he did not immediately step into that position.  Before becoming King, David went through many battles, many of them with Saul, who was King at the time David was anointed.

Saul was extremely jealous of David and attempted to kill him.  David remained on the run from Saul for a long period of time.  In 1 Samuel 30, David and his men came to Ziklag to discover the place had been burned, and all the people in Ziklag had been taken captive, including David’s wives.

The men with David were grieved.  In their grief, they lashed out at David.  They even threatened to stone him.  Needless to say, David felt extremely distressed.  However, he found something inside him that caused him to encourage himself in the Lord.  Victory came soon after.  The captives were rescued then, soon, David became King.

 

How You Can Encourage Yourself

Like David, you might be going through one battle after another.  It might seem that everyone is lashing out at you due to their own grief.  You might be waiting on some type of breakthrough or promise of God to come to pass just as David had to wait for a time before stepping into the position God promised him.

Throughout the Psalms written by David, he would express his true feelings to the Lord, but then he would praise God.  One way of lifting a heavy spirit is to praise God.  It is a challenge, at first.  Soon, you will feel better.  You can speak praise or sing praise. Praise defeats discouragement

Another way to encourage yourself is to reach out to someone else who is hurting.  Sometimes, forgetting about yourself for a while and focusing on others will put your problems into perspective.  Often, I have found that when I pray for someone else or reach out to another person, my situation will be resolved.

Finally, it is important to find scriptures of encouragement for your situation.  Reading the Psalms or other uplifting scriptures will breath life into your situation.  Speak those scriptures out loud, and you will notice what power the Word of God has.  After all, the Word is living and active (Hebrews 4:12-13).

What about you?  If you are discouraged, what steps will you take to encourage yourself in the Lord?  You do not have to remain in a pit of discouragement!

If you do not know Jesus as your Savior, then you can change that today.  It is not as complicated as you might have been led to believe.  Romans 10:9-10 states the following:  “That if you confess with your mouth Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you shall be saved.  For with the heart one believes to righteousness and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.”

 

The Final Authority

People we consider to be experts on certain topics often tell us to expect events to unfold in certain ways.  Often, these people are correct.  Of course, there are times when expert words are off base.

A doctor might tell a patient that she only has three months to live.  A teacher might tell a student that he will never amount to anything.  A naysayer might have you convinced that a negative situation will never change.  The question is: who will you believe?

My Personal Situation

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Image via Pixabay by Gerd Altmann.

My husband and I have been in a tight situation for several years.  Some well meaning people said that we would never see the end we were hoping for.  What we were believing God for was just impossible.  At times, it was tempting to take heed to these words.

We had a choice to make.  God had promised us that He was going to work a miracle in our situation. He had spoken to us personally in our spirits (not an audible voice), and He had confirmed His promise through other Christians.  Yet, we still had people, even God’s people, telling us it just couldn’t happen.  According to them, we should not expect a turn around.  We could either believe God or believe people.

But God

Let me just insert a disclaimer at this point.  Some of our naysayers were not horrible people.  They were simply giving us what they had experienced.  To believe God, we did not have to demean our naysayers.  We just had to choose not to process their words in our minds.

Just a few days ago, my husband and I received the news we had been waiting for.  I praise God that His word and His promises trumps all others!  Let me tell you that we had been waiting for years for our situation to change.  We knew we looked foolish to our naysayers as we pressed on and battled spiritual forces and our flesh to keep walking by faith.

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I am telling you this because I want to encourage you.  Your situation might seem impossible as if there is not an end in sight nor light at the end of the tunnel.  However, I can tell you that if God has said He is going to turn the impossible around, He will do just that.  What God promises, He delivers.  He is not a man that he should like nor a son of man that he should change his mind (Numbers 23:19).

Reject Doubt and Fear

When other people tell you that God will not change your situation, you do not have to accept their words as final.  You do not have to argue with your naysayers, but you can refuse to entertain their words.  Whatever God has promised to you, hold on to that promise.  Find scriptures that are relevant to your situation and speak them out loud.

Why shouldn’t we expect God to deliver the impossible?  Throughout the Bible, we find many situations that He turned around in different ways.  He is God, and He does not change.  He still does wonders today.

Whose report will you believe?  God’s report or man’s?  Let God be true and every man a liar (Romans 3:4). His Word is the final authority.

 

 

 

Contending for the Faith

Jude 3 contains a well-known phrase that many ministers use for sermon titles.  This one-chapter book of the Bible exhorts us to contend for the faith.  Next, the brief epistle reminded its readers that many false teachings were spreading to a dangerous level during the time period in which the book of Jude was written.  False teachings and apostate doctrines are alive and well today.  Some of the most dangerous of those are prevalent in the western portion of the world, especially in the United States.

What does it mean to contend?

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The Greek word that is used for contend is epagonizomai meaning to struggle for, to combat.  The word is a verb indicating an action that is to be taken.  In other words, we are to be willing to fight for our faith.

When looking throughout the Bible concerning spiritual warfare, it is imperative to note that our struggle is not against people.  Unfortunately, people are involved when we have to stand boldly for the faith in loving disagreement.  Often, people take our disagreement with them to mean we lack love.  Although there are cases in which that may be true, a genuine child of God, learns to disagree yet still love the people involved.

Contending in Deed more than Word

Although standing boldly for the Word of the Lord often requires us to speak boldly, our actions should speak louder than our words.  If we say we believe in a certain principle, we should stand by it.  Saying one thing and doing another is one sure way to make faith-contending less effective.

When we have to speak against the actions of a person, or a group of people, it is important to do so in love.  In Ephesians 4, Paul admonishes his readers to speak the truth in love.  Speaking the truth without love often does more harm than good.  Truth coupled with love brings change.  However, it is important to note that if you have spoken the truth in love, and people are still offended, you have done no wrong.

Beware of a False Gospel

What I am about to write is without malice because I love my country.  I am thankful to live in the United States of America.  With that being said, it is vital that I make it clear that we in the western portion of the world often are used to being comfortable.  Confrontation and boldly proclaiming the gospel demand that we come out of the comfort zone.  The disease of political correctness is plaguing the Christian church in America.  Pastors and teachers will not speak out about controversial issues such as abortion, questioning one’s gender, and so on.

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By remaining silent, we are allowing the gospel of comfort to spread rather than the true gospel of Jesus Christ.  The true gospel saves sinners and sanctifies them.  The agape love of God loves the sinner, but when the sinner comes for salvation, He loves the individual too much to leave him in his sin.  I do not believe we have to beat people down, but I do believe we have to let them know that God has a much better way.

The book of Jude closes on a positive note.  Verse 24 reminds us that Jesus Christ is able to keep us from falling.  Our boldness and ability to contend for the faith comes from Him and not ourselves.  When I am reminded of that, it brings comfort because I am not able to stand boldly without Him.  Neither are you, but the good news is that you don’t have to stand alone.

For a more in-depth study on the book of Jude, check out the study guide I have on Amazon.

Breaking New Ground

Recently, I told my church that I believed God was bringing us as individuals as well as a body of believers into a new season.  Without even realizing what has happened, my church seems to be breaking new ground spiritually.  What do I mean by breaking new ground?

Leaving Comfort Zones Behind

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One of the first steps to gaining new ground from the enemy in the spiritual realm is to be willing to leave your comfort zone.  Often, as Christians, we tend to stay where we feel comfortable and safe, but is that truly Biblical?  In Amos 6:1, the word states the following:  “Woe to those who are at ease in Zion and trust in the mountain of Samaria…”

Our trust has to totally be in Jesus Christ, not in things of the world.  When we leave what is comfortable, we are sending a clear message to the demonic realm that we trust completely in God.  That act of faith moves the obstacles in the spiritual realms causing us to gain ground.

Gaining and Breaking New Ground

Some of the ground we gain is territory that we previously possessed yet gave up to the enemy out of fear or complacency.  However, when we break new ground, we step into realms with Jesus Christ in which we have never been.  Although this might seem scary, it is exactly what we were meant to do.  God never intended for us to stay in the same place.  He intended for us to grow and mature spiritually.

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Breaking new ground requires leaving some things behind.  Bitterness, resentment, sexual sin, gossiping, and other sins cannot come to the new level God in which God wants to take you.  In order to be effective for the kingdom of God, we have to be free from distractions.  2 Timothy 2:4 states plainly that in order to be victorious over sin and the demonic realm, we have to avoid being entangled in sin and other distractions that keep our focus in the wrong place.

A New Thing

I believe that in the days we are living in, God wants His people to stand out.  When I say stand out, I do not mean that we should obnoxiously stand out and draw unnecessary attention to ourselves.  This type of behavior does not glorify Jesus. However, we can stand strongly and boldly and without apology for the truth of God’s word and His kingdom and do so in love.

Although God’s character does not change, He sometimes operates in what we perceive to be different ways.  These ways are not truly different of His person.  We simply have not known some of His ways because we have dwelt too long in the comfort zone.  Isaiah 43:19 declares the following:  “Behold, I will do a new thing; now it shall spring forth; shall you not know it?  I will even make a way in the wilderness, and rivers in the desert.”

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If we are not careful, friends, we can fail to know the new thing God is doing.  That is why the question is asked “Shall you not know it?”  Don’t miss what God has for you because you are afraid to leave something behind.  Don’t allow fear of what people think to cause you to miss God’s best for you.

God is bringing His people to a new level, not to make us look wonderful, but to glorify Jesus Christ in all the earth.  He wants to use us to point people to salvation before the return of Jesus Christ.  Will you be part of the new thing God is doing?  Step out of your comfort zone and break new ground!

Love Is…

On my personal Facebook account, I belong to several bible study groups.  Mostly, I enjoy the posts in these groups, that is, when I have time to look at them.  Over the course of the weekend, some people in one group I belong to were arguing over the pagan origins of Easter and whether or not Christians should celebrate it.

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I could detail every argument that was made in this post for you, but that would take too much time.  Instead, I am going to address what I believe to be an extremely important point.  The point is love.

Pride

At the root of most arguments is pride. As Christians, it is easy to take pride in our knowledge.  Of course, we need knowledge.  God’s people perish for lack of knowledge; however, when the display of knowledge supersedes love, then it is nothing more than pride.  In 1 Corinthians 13:4, the word of God states that love is not proud.

When I observe these arguments, I often am tempted to add a few words myself.  Sometimes, I have.  It is then that I must question my own motives.  Do I really want to help people who might be misguided, or do I want to appear “right”?  Of course, there are some issues that are worthy of debate, but most issues are a matter or pride.

Are Religious Celebrations a Sin?

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When I have studied the origins of Easter, I can not deny that there is a pagan influence in the original celebrations, yet, I can say that what I am celebrating is not the Easter Bunny, but the death, burial, and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ.  In my own heart, I know what I am celebrating.  When I am thanking the Lord for His sacrifice and victory, the Easter Bunny does not cross my mind. However, my children participated in egg hunts when they were smaller.

If you believe your children should not participate in egg hunts, then pay heed to that personal conviction.  If you have no problem with it, that is good also.  In our pursuit of righteousness, we must remember that our righteousness comes from Jesus Christ, not our acts or deeds.  There are some matters in which we must be led by the Holy Spirit.  Any holiday or celebration could become an idol to some depending upon the condition of the heart.  What we must bear in mind is that it is the Lord who knows the heart.

Love is the Answer

If you truly believe fellow Christians are sinning by observing the death, burial, and resurrection on Easter weekend, then pray for them.  God is surely able to convict His people of wrongdoing.  Berating people and involving himself in heated arguments is not what Jesus would have done while on this Earth.

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If you truly believe celebrating Easter is just fine, then proceed.  The point is to walk in love and avoid needless arguing.  Read Romans 14.  Paul encouraged believers to take the high road of love with others and follow their own personal convictions for themselves.

Personally, I celebrate and give praise for the death, burial, and resurrection of my Lord Jesus Christ frequently, not just at this particular time of year.  I do this because He has changed my life.  He has changed me!  He has turned around impossible situations in my own life.  He has made me more than a conqueror.  No matter the time of the year, the love of Jesus is worth celebrating!

Truth and Deceit

I want to begin this post by apologizing that it has been so long since my last post.  With so many viruses going around, my husband, children, and I have taken turns with illnesses.  In addition, my children are both involved with school sports. I am not attempting to bombard you with too many of my life’s details, but I want my readers to know that my absence has not been from intentional neglect.

If we are all honest, we have all told what is known as bold-faced lies.  Many of us have omitted information that needed to be in our stories or statements, and, truthfully, many of us have added information that was not accurate to our stories and statements.  However, to be fair, we have omitted facts when relating events to people simply because all the details did not need to be told.  Those omissions are hardly a sin.  People do not want to know every detail of every story we tell.

Wisdom Versus Deceit

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The bible is very clear about walking in lies and deceit versus the truth, but sometimes the line between simply using wisdom in what we tell and willfully operating in deceit can be a fine one and even a bit blurry.  Not only does the Bible tell us what is expected of us, but the Word of God also gives strategies for living out His instruction.  Often, we are not looking for those strategies, or, we do not realize that we have come upon something that is meant to serve as an application.

Romans 12:2 is a perfect example of such an application.  We are told that knowing God’s will is accomplished through being transformed by renewing our minds.  In other words, changing our thinking is a key to victory over sin.  The book of Proverbs in the Old Testament is full of practical wisdom in every day situations.  The Holy Spirit is meant to guide us as well.  John 16:13 states that the Holy Spirit guides us into all truth.  Wouldn’t it be logical to assume that since He guides us into all truth that He will guide our words? Of course!

In other posts, I have explained ways to be sensitive to the Holy Spirit.  In a nutshell, prayer and time in Word bring about that sensitivity.  Applying what we learn and obeying God makes us even more sensitive to His voice.  Jesus told the disciples (Matthew 10:19) that they had no need to worry about what they would say when they were facing persecution.  They were assured that God would give them the words to say.

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1 Peter 3:15 states that we must sanctify Christ as Lord in our hearts in order to know how to answer everyone about the hope we have.  The word sanctify means “set apart”.  We must set apart time with the Lord and esteem Him higher than all else in our lives.  In doing this, we will be guided as to how to answer people about various issues with truthfulness, yet, without too much information.

Truth Brings Freedom

There are times in my past in which I walked in deceit with those around me.  If I felt it was needed, I would manipulate details in a story to make myself appear favorable.  Mind you, I was a born-again believer at this time.  Trust me, the Holy Spirit convicted me.  I did something dangerous with that conviction.  I did not listen to it.  Eventually, I hardened to the sound of His voice.  A time of repentance had to be taken to soften what was hardened.

Since that time, I have found such freedom in being truthful in all matters.  Of course, I still seek guidance from the Holy Spirit because I tend to blurt out too much “truth”.  Ephesians 4:15 states that we must speak the truth in love.  Love coupled with truth brings just the right amount of information.  Giving too many details, or, speaking truth too harshly can do more harm than good.  Thank God for His word and for giving us His Spirit to guide us.

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As believers in the Lord Jesus Christ, we want to live with integrity.  Doing this allows others to see Christ in us.  It also maintains good relationships with others.  If you are in the habit of being deceitful, ask the Lord to help you today.  He will never fail to answer.

Is it What We Are For or Against?

Do not take the title of this blog post out of balance.  I understand that it is necessary to stand against evil.  I just want to make sure that I am not always standing against something but standing for something as well.  Often, Christianity is frowned upon because Christians often talk about what is wrong and name only the list of acts that are sins.

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Of course, the issue of sin is to be taken seriously and dealt with rather than swept under the rug; however, it is important to be reminded that none of us can overcome the power of sin in our own strength.  If we could do that, then, Christ would not have had to come and suffer and die for us.

You Will Know Them By Their Fruit

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In Matthew 7:16, Jesus stated that both false prophets would be recognized by their fruits.  Those who are genuine will be recognized the same way, so, it is important to know what types of fruit we should be looking for.  Galatians 5:22-23 explains what the fruit of the Spirit is.  In other words, if a person has the Holy Spirit dwelling in her, there are certain characteristics that will eventually manifest.  These are love, joy, peace, patience, goodness, kindness, gentleness, and self-control.

Instead of always speaking out against hate, I should speak out for love.  When depression comes, I should speak up for joy.  I should seek out peace when strife comes instead of simply speaking against strife.  Does this make sense?

Although God deals with sin, it is important to remember that He also deals with us according to our righteousness.  In ourselves, there is no righteousness, but when we accept Christ, He is our righteousness.  Salvation is instant, but sanctification is a process.  When Christ is in me, He will begin to help me cultivate the fruit that is the evidence of the Holy Spirit being in me.

Are You Only ‘Against’ or Are You ‘For’?

With all that was just stated, I come back to my first statement:  Is it what you are for or what you are against?  Do you stand for righteousness, or do you simply stand against what you deem to be sinful?  It is important to give thought to this because if you only stand against what is sin without pointing people to the hope that is in Christ, then, you are in danger of developing self-righteousness.  That type of righteousness is no righteousness at all.

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When we speak out against the things that break God’s heart, it is also in the heart of God to point people to the solution.  The solution is always Jesus.  If we only point out sin, but fail to point out the way to righteousness, then our ministries have failed.

There are times when it is important to show righteous indignation, but there are also times when nothing but love will help.  Displaying the fruit of the Spirit in our lives is what will make a difference.  People will take notice of that fruit which will bring glory to Jesus.  They will notice because it is something different from what they have seen before.

How about you?  Are you only talking about what you are against, or, are you letting others know what you stand for?

Erratic Emotions

Emotions are a natural part of our human makeup.  People, particularly women, can experience a variety of emotions in one day.  From elation to depression, our emotions can take us on a wild roller coaster ride through life if we do not find ways to manage them.

Types of Emotions

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Although human beings can experience a wide variety of feelings, some of the most basic types of emotions are happiness, sadness, pride, fear, disgust, anger, surprise, excitement, shame, and embarrassment.  The Bible even speaks of people’s various feelings.  Scripture never promotes suppressing emotions and refusing to deal with them, but we must learn to control them with the help of the Holy Spirit.

Happiness is seen as a positive emotion, and there is certainly nothing wrong with being happy.  The problem comes when I expect other people to do for me what only God can do.  What I am about to state is certainly not popular, but the Lord never promised that we would always be happy.  He did, however, promise that we could have joy.

What is the difference between joy and happiness?  Although the two words are used interchangeably, happiness often depends upon circumstances while joy goes much deeper.  The joy we experience from God is a part of the fruit of the Spirit.  In other words, joy is the result of having the Holy Spirit (given to us at salvation).  Happiness can only take me so far, but joy gets me through all circumstances, good or bad.

Fear and anger are considered to be negative emotions.  A healthy fear, such as being afraid to walk out in front of a moving vehicle, is not negative.  It is needful, but a terrifying fear, such as always fearing the future, is not of God.  In fact, His word teaches us to overcome such fears (2 Timothy 1:7, 1 John 4:18).  Anger is not always negative. There are times when we need to have anger in order to act; however, anger that is not dealt with properly is dangerous and leads to other sins.  Anger is another emotion that the Bible teaches us to control (James 1:20, Ephesians 4:26-27, and Proverbs 29:11)

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Emotions Out of Control

I must admit that I have days when I am easily angered, or, my feelings are hurt very easily.  Sometimes, there can be physical explanations such as lack of sleep or hormonal imbalance.  Other times, out-of-control emotions can be a symptom of something that is lacking spiritually.

Earlier, I stated that people often expect others in their lives to make them happy.  I have made the mistake of placing responsibility for my emotional well-being in the hands of my husband, children, friends, or family.  I am certainly not saying that the people in my life do not want me to be happy, but I am saying that it is not their responsibility to manage my emotions.  The responsibility is mine, and the only way I can assume it is to go to God for emotional healing when my feelings seem to be wreaking havoc.

Once you let others off the hook for your emotional stability, and you give this to the Lord, you will begin to see more balanced emotions displayed.  The things that used to irritate you or hurt your feelings will not have as much power over you.

Godly Response

When negative emotions arise, as they often do, you should not suppress them; however, you should not give full vent to them either.  First, go to the Lord in prayer about them.  He is neither surprised nor perplexed by your emotions. Next, find a trusted friend with which to speak.  Ask other believers for prayer.

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Most of all, you need to spend time with God on a daily basis, both in prayer and in His word.  I realize I sound bossy, but, trust me, I have had loads of experience in the emotional realm.  Unfortunately, I have given full vent to my emotions which have never brought about good results.  Thankfully, there are also times I take them to God and ask for His intervention.  The latter choice is always best.

As I mentioned earlier, happiness is a wonderful emotion, but if I believe I must always be on an emotional high, I will eventually bottom out to depression.  Emotions must be stabilized and balanced so as to avoid either extreme on the pendulum swing.  I am not suggesting that managing emotions is an easy feat.  I know better, but I also know that nothing is impossible with God.  He gives us grace for all areas of our lives, including our feelings.