July 23, 2013
In my work as a psychiatrist, the most common reason people come into my office is that they are experiencing feelings of pain. A variant is having difficulty controlling feelings and emotions, leading to poor decisions that hurt them or others. The most damaging situations occur when emotions actually become the decision-making system, which can lead to destructive or even life-interfering behaviors.
Now, I am not saying our “negative” emotions are always bad. Our negative emotions have a life-saving role. They are a great warning system that God has given us. You can read about that in a different devotional (see May 30, 2013).
When you make a decision to spend time with Your Lord, His thoughts will literally begin to form your mind. But you see, God made our minds powerfully complex. We can have many thoughts at the same time. These thoughts compete to form the lenses our minds use to view life’s situations. A big stumbling block for us is the difficulty of dealing with our emotions. Even though our positive feelings can sometimes get us into trouble, handling real or anticipated emotional discomfort and pain are even bigger problems.
Feeling lonely, rejected, unimportant, out of control, incompetent, hopeless, helpless, or overwhelmed can steer your thought world in a negative direction. The desire to avoid these feelings leads to many inadequate and self-destructive knee jerk decisions, ones we wish we could take back. These decisions often evolve into patterns or habits we eventually want to change. But we feel unable to stop them because we believe these actions soothe our discomfort.
Thankfully, God gave us the Holy Spirit who directs our psychological development helping us become more Christ-like. Godly decision-making keeps the Holy Spirit on the throne of your heart. (See Spiritual Basics on the bottom after this Stepping Stones and then click Confession). When we do not make Godly decisions, we need to confess the wrong decisions, make things right with God, and get the Holy Spirit back on the throne. As you attempt to spend time with God in prayer, scripture reading, or meditation, turn this process over to the Holy Spirit … letting Him be the Director of your thinking and psychological development process.
Today, track your feelings, especially what you feel when people say something to you or an unexpected situation occurs. What is your first feeling? If that feeling is uncomfortable, examine your first response. Also, practice confession today. Unfortunately, we all have daily sinful decisions (internal thoughts or external behaviors) that require confession to restore the Holy Spirit to the throne. You will be amazed at the path your life takes when you promote the right director to guide and manage your thoughts and mind. Will it be the Holy Spirit, Satan, or your flesh? Your director is your decision, so choose well.
Dear Father of Truth, There are so many things that influence my mind and thoughts. I thank You for Your Spirit who brings order to my mind and infuses it with life and peace. I desire to think Your thoughts, my Holy One. I know that without the Holy Spirit directing my thought processes, my mind scrambles and searches to avoid discomfort and pain, and to get quick-fix relief and satisfaction. I know that the Evil One, the father of lies, tries to worm his way into my mind in the name of distraction and satisfaction. I thank You, Lord, for all your goodness and blessings, and I continue to pray for Your protection. I pray this in the name of My Comforter, Jesus; and all God’s children say – AMEN!
The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace. Romans 8:6
Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. 1 Peter 5:8