Joyce Meyer — Emotions and Feelings
Well, thank you for joining us today and I really believe that you're gonna enjoy the word. You know, the word of God is not just ordinary words but they are words that are filled with power that change our lives and renew our minds. But the Bible is so practical. It's not just a spiritual book: it's a very practical book that helps us be the kind of mature spiritual people that God wants us to be. And so one of the things in our lives that gives us a lot of problems, sometimes a lot of joy, but very often a lot of problems is our emotions, our feelings.
Now God gave us feelings and they're good and then they're not good and they're here and then they're not here and they change without a moment's notice. You can go to bed feeling one way, wake up the next day feeling another way. You can feel like that you wanna buy things that you can't really afford. You can feel like you wanna eat things that you really shouldn't eat. You can feel like laying on the couch all day when you should get up and do some work. So if we let our feelings run our lives, you can't keep from having them but if you let them run your life then you're gonna live in absolute disaster.
And so I've kind of learned... I don't always do it but I see this real well in the spirit, it's like, you have to separate out who you are from your natural carnal mind, you see, well, what we think isn't always good. I mean, it can be good if it's agreeing with God but it's not always good. Sometimes what we think is something that the enemy's put in our mind.
And then if we think wrong, it's gonna lead to us feeling wrong and so sometimes I feel something that is gonna really cause a problem in my life if I follow that feeling and then when it comes to our will, sometimes we want things that are not gonna be good for us and sometimes things that are gonna be good for us we don't want, so I don't know what we're gonna do with ourselves if we're not able to say, "Okay, this is me. I am a spirit, I have a soul, and I live in a body". What you're looking at right now is my body but there's a lot more to me than just this. A lot of stuff going on inside. Lot of heavy traffic in there. Lot of feelings, attitudes, emotions, thoughts, you know, on and on and on. And then our mouth is very good at expressing all of it, expressing all of it.
Matter of fact, I've got a book that I'm gonna offer today called "Living beyond your feelings," and I want to read you just a little bit of the introduction: "It seems to me that we talk about how we feel more than practically anything else in our lives. We feel good or bad, happy or sad, excited or discouraged, and a thousand other things. The inventory of the variety of ways that we feel is almost endless. Feelings are ever-changing, usually without notification. They don't need our permission to fluctuate. They merely seem to do as they please for no specific reason that we can find. We've all experienced going to bed feeling happy, waking up the next morning feeling irritable and tired. 'Why do I feel this way?' We ask ourselves, and then usually we begin to tell everybody else how we feel. I feel down today. I feel discouraged".
We wanna tell anybody that will listen but it's interesting to me how we tend to talk so much about the negative feelings that we have and not nearly as much about the positive ones. If you feel real energetic today, how many people do you tell? "Oh, I'm so energetic today". But if you feel tired, "Oh, I'm so tired," amen? When we don't feel good, when we don't feel happy or we don't feel like doing something, we want everybody to know, I guess hoping they'll feel sorry for us. But we really need to say more about the good things in our life.
I had some back problems over the last year that are now, thankfully, taken care of but I noticed the other day how much more often I verbalized that my back was hurting compared to the number of times now I say, "Boy, my back don't hurt at all". And so I'm trying to form a habit of saying just as much about the good things as I do about the bad things. So I think it's just good if we take a little bit of time today to talk about these feelings.
Emotions, the word means to excite or to move to action: a complex, usually strong, response produced by a state of mind that moves you to take action. You think and it motivates you to want to do or not to do. It can be a state of agitation and disturbance, the part of the consciousness that involves feelings. An emotional person is one easily affected with or stirred by emotion and one who displays emotions.
Now what I'm getting ready to share with you in the next couple of minutes has been very major for me in my life because I spent a lot of years wishing I didn't feel this. I wish I didn't feel this way or I wish I felt that way. I wish I felt like exercising. I wish I didn't feel like eating dessert. I wish I didn't feel like being mad at you but I do feel like I'm mad at you, so up goes my walls. We know what I'm talking about, don't you? And so we wish we didn't feel certain ways and, boy, if you're not careful, you can get into this area of thinking that nothing can change until God miraculously does something about these feelings.
"Well, but I don't feel. I don't feel". But see, here's what God wants us to know. We have his Spirit living on the inside of us. We have the enabling power of God living on the inside of us as believers in Jesus Christ. If you're a Christian, you have God's enabling power living on the inside of you, and Paul said, "I can do all things," anything, "Through Christ". Matter of fact, the amplified Bible says: "I'm ready for anything or equal to anything through him who infuses inner strength into me".
So if I'm gonna say that I am a born again, full-of-the-Spirit Christian and I can't get out of bed and do my work because I don't feel like getting out of bed, then that's not saying very much about the resurrection power of Christ that I say is living on the inside of me. If that same power that raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, it shall quicken your mortal body. Now, obviously, if you're sick and you need to rest, that's another situation but I don't have to be lazy just because I feel lazy. And I don't have to be angry just because I feel angry. I can feel angry and still forgive somebody and walk in love with them because my decisions are greater than my feelings.
The more attention we pay to our feelings, the more we feed them, the stronger they get. The more we bow down to them, the more they'll try to rule us. But the more we live beyond them... long time ago I wrote a book called "Managing your emotions" and so I was just getting a revelation that I can't help how I feel all the time and God may not always make all the feelings go away that I don't want or make all the ones come that I do want but I'm more than my feelings. C'mon, are you here today? We're more than our feelings.
I am a spirit, God lives in my spirit. You're a spirit, he lives in your spirit. I have a mind, I have emotions, I have a body, I have a will. But walking in the Spirit means that by the Spirit you control those other areas of your life rather than letting them control you. Think I'm gonna say that again. It sounds so spiritual to say, "We walk in the spirit. Ah yes, do you walk in the spirit"? Well, you know what the apostle Paul said? You're walking in the Spirit if you're led, guided, and controlled by the Spirit. Are we led, guided, and controlled by the Spirit? Or are we led and guided by our own thoughts, by our feelings, by our own will, or just by our lazy demanding body? You know, whatever you give your flesh it's gonna demand more of it the next time.
Long time ago, I had a fondness for chocolate-covered peanuts and somebody gave me a little bag of chocolate-covered peanuts and I hid them in the refrigerator door. Now, when you start hiding food you know right away you've got a problem. Well, first of all I didn't want my family to know I was eating those peanuts 'cause I was always on a diet. And secondly, I didn't want anybody else eating my peanuts.And please don't send me chocolate-covered peanuts. Every time I tell this story, I get chocolate-covered peanuts. I'll just give 'em to somebody else.
And so I started out, I'd get one out every evening after dinner. When everybody was out of the kitchen, I'd eat it. Well, pretty soon, if I didn't go get it right away, my flesh would say, "Get me my peanut". Now, you know, it wasn't an out loud voice for those of you who don't understand what I'm talking about. But your flesh, your... the demands and the desires of the human being apart from God can be quite loud and quite demanding. Well, pretty soon, one peanut wasn't enough. Then my flesh said, "Give me two peanuts".
And then before I knew it, I was eating half a bag of peanuts and, guess what, I was gaining weight. So you gotta understand that the flesh is never going to just be satisfied on its own. It must be controlled and disciplined. And that doesn't mean you can never eat chocolate-covered peanuts but it does mean that you don't have to eat them if you don't want to.
You can't let your body, your will, your emotions, your mind boss you around. You're the boss. You're a spirit controlled by the Holy Spirit. You're the boss. So we're always gonna have feelings but we can learn to manage them or we can learn to live beyond our feelings, which is the title of the book that I wrote a couple of years back.
Romans 8:8: "And those who are in the flesh, living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses, cannot please God". I love the amplified translation of this because it tells me what living in the flesh means. It means that I'm catering to these fleshly appetites. I have impulses. See, an emotion can just be a "Whoo," "Wow, feel like I wanna do that". You may be out and, you know, going shopping for just entertainment is not too smart. 'Cause just "I'm gonna go walk around the mall," is not something you should do unless you can afford to walk around the mall. Because if you really can't afford to walk around the mall, you better know that your flesh loves shopping, amen?
And so you can go out there. You're not planning to buy anything and then you get an impulse. You see something. Sales can give you impulses. "Seventy percent off," I mean, who wouldn't want that? "Oh"! But this says we're walking in the flesh when we cater to those impulses. See, we have to walk in wisdom but we don't have to, we get to. We get to walk in wisdom and what I always like to say about wisdom is wisdom is doing now what you're gonna be happy with later on in life. Impulses means I do right now what my flesh demands and later on I'm wishing I wouldn't have done it. But now it's too late.
Probably more men than women, but how many men have gone out just looking at the new cars? C'mon, before you know it you're signing on the dotted line and now you're making payments for seven years and you don't even like the stupid car anymore. You don't even care for it. Dave took me out one time to find me a car and I still can't figure out what happened. He came home with a new car and I never got one. I'm, like, "Wait a minute, something's wrong with this picture. You took me out to get a new car. I didn't get one and now you have a new car".
And especially when you know that something is a weakness for you. That's when you need to really resist it and stand against it. "Those who are in the flesh living a life that caters to sinful appetites and impulses cannot please God". That doesn't mean that God doesn't love us but it means that he's not pleased with that behavior and the main reason why he's not pleased with that behavior is because he knows it's gonna hurt us. It's gonna hurt the good plan that he has for our lives. And I mean, God is all about you having a great life. He's all about you enjoying life and having victory in your life and bearing good fruit in your life. And the only way that's gonna happen is if we do things the way God tells us to do them. If we live in agreement with God.
Paul put it real plainly in 1 Corinthians 3:1 through 3: "However, brothers and sisters, I could not talk to you as to spiritual people, but I had to talk to you as worldly people, those who are dominated by human nature". Now, you know, there are spiritual Christians and there are carnal Christians. And a carnal Christian is someone who, although they are born again and Christ is living in them, they have not crucified the flesh at all so they still walk according to their own mind, their own will, and their own emotions.
"I could not talk to you like spiritual people, but I had to talk to you like worldly people, because you're still being dominated by the human nature. I had to speak to you like infants and babies in the new life in Christ! I had to feed you with milk, not solid food: because you were not able to receive it. And even now you're still not ready".
What did Paul mean by that? Well, if you study this scripture out with others, basically there's levels of teaching that you can do with people. As a teacher, I can give milk, I can give meat, I can give dessert. And see, we all need a little of all of it but if I just preach dessert messages then that's just all the stuff that makes you feel good. "Oh, you got a great future. God forgives you". We love that stuff. "You're gonna have a miracle". I mean, any time that you want, I mean, I can stand up in any crowd and say, "God is a miracle-working God," "Whoa"! But I don't get that response when I say, "Die to self". I don't get that response if I say, "Today, I'm gonna talk about crucifying your self-will and doing what God wants you to do no matter how you feel". I don't get that "Whoa"!
So just like you give a baby milk and then you wait for them to get teeth before you try to give them any meat, and if you're smart you don't start feeding a baby a lot of dessert and sugar because that would not be good for them. And so we need some milk, especially when we're new babies in Christ. We all need a little bit of dessert, but it's really the protein that's in the meat and that's not the only thing that protein's in but just talking in general principles here. That's what we need to grow. Actually, it's not dessert messages that will make you grow and mature: it's hearing things that you really don't wanna hear.
You know, anybody teaching the word, you love it when you get a good response and you love it when people smile and you love it when they clap or when they look like they agree. But Dave has told me over and over and over when they're looking at you like a deer looking to headlights and nobody's clapping, that's when they're learning something. When they're clapping and cheering, that's when they already know what you're saying or it's an easy message to hear. It's something that's going to benefit them.
So I want you to keep in mind that if you've got a really good pastor, he's not just telling you what you wanna hear all the time. He's telling you what you need to hear. And Paul said, "I have to just keep giving you guys milk. I can't give you meat like I want to because you're just not ready to hear it". And I'm telling you, if people don't wanna hear it, then they just won't come back.
And, boy, you watching me by TV, I wonder how many times you're tempted to just say, "I'm just gonna turn her off". I mean, I've had people tell me, "When I first started listening to you, I could only take 15 minutes at a time. I couldn't handle much more," because I put out a lot of meat. Well, the nice thing about the way we're on TV, especially in the mornings, you can turn me off and go to another station and I'm liable to be on that station too. I mean, I've had people tell me that. It's, like, "Man, I tried and tried to turn you off and everywhere I looked, you were there again. So I finally figured out God had something he wanted to say to me".
He said, "You're still worldly, because you're controlled by ordinary impulses." Don't you like that? "You're controlled by these ordinary impulses, the sinful capacity. For as long as there is jealousy and strife and discord among you, are you not un-spiritual, are you not walking like ordinary men unchanged by faith in God"?
So he's saying one of the ways that we can tell how carnal we are, now don't throw something at me, is how easily we are offended. "Well, you hurt my feelings". Well, did I hurt your feelings or did you just get hurt? See, the Bible says love is not touchy. You know why? Because only mature men and women of God walk in real love. If we're not walking in love, then everything's about us. But if we're really walking in love, everything is about the other person. Love always believes the best. So if you say something and I start to get my feelings hurt, I can easily adjust that by simply saying, "I don't believe you meant it that way". I can say that to myself. "I don't believe you meant to hurt me. I don't believe you meant it that way".
But Paul said, "As long as there's strife, bickering, arguing, jealousy, people getting easily offended," and, my goodness, how much of that do we have today? Good gracious. Now, I'm sure you're all wonderful Christians and you never even get mad at each other. You know why? Because we feel. We feel, we feel, we feel or we don't feel. There's a great scripture that I really like in Luke 5:1 through 6. I've gotten a lot out of these scriptures over the years.
"Now it happened that while Jesus was standing by the lake of Gennesaret (the sea of Galilee), and the people were all crowding around him to hear the word of God: that he saw two boats down by the edge of the lake, and the fishermen had gotten out of them and were now cleaning their nets. And he got into one of the boats, which was Simon's, and asked him to put out a little bit from the shore". You know, Jesus did that back then because when sound is going over water it magnifies it. So if all these people were up in the hills, instead of just sitting there on the bank and teaching, he would have the boat row out a little bit and then that voice going over the water would help magnify it.
It's a good point to say that God has a reason for everything he does. Even, somebody needs to hear that today. God has a reason for everything he does. We might not always like it but God will work everything out in our life for good if we trust him to. So he got into the boat and "He began to teach the crowd. And when he finished speaking, he said to Simon Peter, 'now put your nets out into the deep water and get ready for a haul.'"
You gotta think about this for a minute. They'd been fishing all night, they didn't catch anything, nothing. You'll see in a minute Peter's gonna say, "Lord, we fished all night. We didn't catch anything". Did God ever tell you to do anything, you think, "I've been doing that, it's not working"? Well, maybe the answer is do it again. Maybe it's go a little bit deeper. Get out there a little bit deeper. And so I can't even imagine what it was like to clean up all those nets. They didn't have all the electric equipment that people have today and it had to be a messy, tiresome job.
Fished all night, caught nothing, and here Jesus is saying, "Go do it again, only this time I want you to go out into deeper water". I dunno, maybe it's harder to fish in deeper water, I'm not sure. I'm not a fisherman. "So he said, 'master, we worked hard all night, and we're at the point of exhaustion, and we caught nothing in our nets, but at your word I will do what you say and I will lower the nets again.'"
So what's he telling him? "We don't feel like doing that. I don't feel like doing that. I'm tired. I'm exhausted. And I don't think it's fair. Why should I be the one to have to forgive you? I'm the one who forgives all the time. I don't think it's fair. I don't feel like doing that". They didn't think it was gonna work. There was nothing in their soul that agreed with God but he said, "Nevertheless, on the ground of your word. If that's what you say in your word, then that's what I will do". And what do you think happened? "When they had done this, they caught a great number of fish, so many that their nets were at the point of breaking," wow.
Well, let's just talk for a minute about these feelings of anger because they can be pretty strong feelings, can't they? Let me just share a few verses with you as we close up our time today. Proverbs 16:32: "He who is slow to anger is better and more honorable than the mighty, and he who rules and controls his own spirit, is greater than he who captures an entire city". He's saying one man that can control his anger is better than a whole army that would come in and capture a city. Must be pretty important. Wonder how many times every week you get a chance to be offended or to be angry. But you don't have to. I don't have to.
Ephesians 4:26-27: "Be angry at sin and immorality," you can be angry when people mistreat you, "at injustice, at ungodly behavior, yet do not sin". Ain't that good? It's not wrong if you feel anger when somebody mistreats you. I think that the feeling of anger is a safety net for us but he says you can feel that anger and still not sin. In other words, you don't have to act on the anger. "Don't let your anger cause you shame, nor should you let it last until the sun go down".
I always teasingly say I don't like it at all if I get mad right before bed. That doesn't give me very long to get okay. I'd rather have all day. It's kind of nice to think, "Well, I can stay mad all day as long as I get over this by bedtime". I'm only kidding. We need to be quick to forgive. Now watch this: "And do not give the devil an opportunity to lead you into sin by holding a grudge, or nurturing anger, or harboring resentment, or cultivating bitterness". So we have feelings and thank God for many of them. But there are ones that we're gonna have to control and ones that we're not gonna be able to indulge.