Tag Archives: pray

Memory and Anger

Why did Paul say in Ephesians 4:26: In your anger do not sin”: Do not let the sun go down while you are still angry,…”

Studies of memory indicate that memory changes over time. Memory does not include all of the details of a given situation. The emotional state of the body helps determine what is remembered. If the person experiences anger or a negative attitude, then the details they remembered will tend to be negative. On the other hand if the person experiences positive feelings, the memory will tend to recall the positive details of the experience.

In just a short period of time, the details that are in memory begin to change. If people hear of similar situation or are exposed to other accounts of the same incident, part of their details will be added to your memory, embellishing your idea of what happened.

The mood that you are in when you recall the memory will also determine what details you pull from your memory later. If you are in a negative mood, you tend to recall negative details. Once the details are stored in the memory, it is difficult to correct the memory because the owner of the details is determined that the details are still accurate.

When we become angry about an event, we tend to seek out people who have experience the same event or a similar event. It seems this is especially true if the event happened in a church and you hear other church people talk. In other words, we want to talk to people who are on ‘our side’. As we listen to their situation, we have a tendency to adopt parts of the other persons experience and it becomes part of our memory and our anger about the situation becomes even stronger.

In addition, the mood of the person asking about the situation, will also determine how the memory responds. If a questions is asked of you about the situation indicate the person is on “your side” or if the person is on “their side”. In other words you can recall the memory asked on what you think the other person wants and how it will best serve you.

Memory over time becomes inaccurate!

In my recent study about memory, I was reminded of the following experiment regarding memory. The article is titled “How Flawed Memories Can Sabotage Your Marriage” by Jason Whiting, downloaded January 28, 2017 from http://family-studies.org/how-flawed-memories-can-sabotage-your-marriage/
 
Professor Ulrick Neisser did an impromptu experiment after the space shuttle Challenger exploded in 1986. The day after the disaster, he asked his class of 106 students to write down where they were when they heard about it. Three years later he asked these students the same thing. Over 90 percent of the accounts changed, and about half of them were inaccurate in at least two-thirds of the details. The revised memories had supplanted the earlier, more accurate ones, but the new ones still felt true. One student was shown her first description, written three years earlier, and said, “I know that’s my handwriting, but I couldn’t possibly have written that.”

The longer you harbor anger, the more inaccurate the memories become and the intensity of our anger also increases. This is why you have to take care of anger before sunset. You need to take care of it while your memories are still accurate and while we can still control your anger.

Revenge affects our memories

In addition to our memories becoming inaccurate, we also have the revenge factor to deal with. As we think through the event that has caused us to get angry, we think about things we can do to get even. We want revenge! “If I have to suffer for this then I will give you something to suffer for.”

Just the act of vengeance is sinful. Romans 12:9 reads: Do not take revenge, my dear friends, but leave room for God’s wrath, for it is written: “It is mine to avenge; I will repay, says the Lord. The speaker in this passage was quoting from Deuteronomy 32, verses 34-35 where God says:

“Have I not kept this in reserve  and sealed it in my vaults? It is mine to avenge; I will repay.  In due time their foot will slip; their day of disaster is near and their doom rushes upon them.” Deuteronomy 32:34-25(NIV)

Not only will God take vengeance, but he can do a better job than we can. At the right time, God will cause ‘their foot to slip’ and their day of disaster happens.

Why does the anger start in the first place?

Anger usually begins when we think we need to know why something that affects your life has happened. We have difficulty finding out the details about the incident because of a policy or a legal liability. However, I have found that even if we knew the cause, we may still get angry. The real cause of the anger is usually selfishness. We want things to happen our way. We do not want to wait for God to show us His ways.

Here are some steps for overcoming anger:

  1. Humbly search your own heart and seek God’s wisdom.
  • Why is this happening to me?
  • Is this happening because of something I have done?
  • What is God trying to teach me through this experience?
  1. Seek forgiveness from God for any wrong that you have done to cause the experience.

“AND WHENEVER YOU STAND PRAYING, if you have anything against anyone, forgive him, that your Father in heaven may also forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your Father in heaven forgive your trespasses.” Mark 11:25(NIV)

  1. Seek forgiveness from the person(s) who have caused the experience that makes you become angry.

“Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14 And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.” Colossians 3:12-14(NIV)

NOTE: Forgiveness does not mean you forget. Forgiveness means that you refuse to bring up the offense again. In other words, “The case is closed”. We surrender our right to use that offense against that person again.

  1. Love the person who offended you.

 

43 “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 that you may be children of your Father in heaven. He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 If you love those who love you, what reward will you get? Are not even the tax collectors doing that? 47 And if you greet only your own people, what are you doing more than others? Do not even pagans do that? 48 Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect. Matthew 5:43-48

 

All Scripture has been downloaded from http://Biblegateway.com

Pray v. Prey: The Christian’s Responsibility Regarding Sin

In our world today, there are many meaningful Christians who do things in an effort to make the sinner more like them, rather than like God; Christians who think God should smite the sinner dead for what others are doing; they will get on their bandwagon in an effort to get other Christians to prey on the other person who has sinned. But, what does God say we should do when someone sins?

As I was reading 1 John 5 recently, there was a verse that jumped out at me. In verse 16 of that chapter, the writer says:

If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. 1 John 5:16a(NIV)

The first thing I noticed is that when a brother or sister sins, my responsibility is to pray for that person. Is that what I am doing? Am I praying or am I preying?

If I get on the social network and try to get everyone to do the same thing I am doing, it is probably preying. Or if I develop an organization condemning the other person, I am probably preying. If I am the first to post the other person’s sin, do I like getting other people to “like” it? Doesn’t that make me feel really good? When I prey on someone, I want other people to think more highly of me than the other person. I want them to condemn the other person, just like I am condemning them.

In the Gospel of Matthew, the writer recorded these words of Jesus:

And when you pray, do not be like the hypocrites, for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and on the street corners to be seen by others. Truly I tell you, they have received their reward in full. Matthew 6:5(NIV)

In the time in history when this was written, the synagogues and street corners were the social media of the day. The hypocrites wanted the maximum exposure to what they were saying. They get their reward, their short period of gratification…just like I would get on the social media or the organizations I may try to start.

However, that is not how I am supposed to pray. Thankfully, Jesus didn’t stop there with His instruction for praying, He continued with these words:

But when you pray, go into your room, close the door and pray to your Father, who is unseen. Then your Father, who sees what is done in secret, will reward you. And when you pray, do not keep on babbling like pagans, for they think they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him. Matthew 6:6-8(NIV)

You will also notice that this scripture indicates that God knows what the other person needs; we do not have to tell God how to answer our prayer.

This brings us to the second important concept mentioned in 1 John 5:16. Once we pray, it is not our responsibility to change the other person. God is the one who brings life, not us. Somehow, as Christians, we want to confront that person (prey on that person) so we can have the satisfaction of changing that person to our way of thinking.

Has it ever occurred to you that God may have already answered your pray and is in the process of changing that person? If we attempt to put words into God’s mouth, we may be hindering God from changing that person into the person He wants them to be.

When we pray and give God multiple choice answers that he should give, we are babbling like pagans because God already knows how He is going to answer your prayer.

Galatians 5 tells us what the acts (sins) of the flesh are:

The acts of the flesh are obvious: sexual immorality, impurity and debauchery;  idolatry and witchcraft; hatred, discord, jealousy, fits of rage, selfish ambition, dissensions, factions  and envy; drunkenness, orgies, and the like. Galatians 5:19-21a(NIV)

These sins mentioned in Galatians is the sin of the flesh (self). Every sinful act mentioned is a side effect of living in the flesh. As Christians we have a tendency to condemn the side effects of the sinful act and not the sinful act itself. In fact, in many cases, we are acting in the flesh when we condemn the other person’s ‘sinful act’.

Galatians 5 also tells us how we should respond to the person involved in the sin of the flesh:

But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness,  gentleness and self-control. Against such things there is no law.  Those who belong to Christ Jesus have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires.  Since we live by the Spirit, let us keep in step with the Spirit.  Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other. Galatians 5:22-26(NIV)

If you want to help the person who commits sin, these are the tools you will use with that person. When used properly, these are the tools that cause the person who sinned, want the life that God has to offer.

When you use flesh to fight flesh, the only person to win is the one acting in the flesh. Let us fight flesh with spirit. In other words, let us ‘pray for the sinner’ and not ‘prey on the sinner’.

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.

Love Your Enemy

The Bibles says in Jude 1:18 that “In the last times there will be scoffers who will follow their own ungodly desires. 19 These are the people who divide you, who follow mere natural instincts and do not have the Spirit.” Jude 1:18-19(NIV)

It is obvious that we are in the end times. However, God didn’t give us this information so we would know when the end was near. The reason he gave us this information was to warn us about the scoffer’s ability to separate us from God.

This is what God said we should do:

20 But you, dear friends, by building yourselves up in your most holy faith and praying in the Holy Spirit, 21 keep yourselves in God’s love as you wait for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ to bring you to eternal life.

22 Be merciful to those who doubt; 23 save others by snatching them from the fire; to others show mercy, mixed with fear—hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh. Jude 1:20-23(NIV)

How are we doing?

This passage doesn’t say that we should write snide comments and cartoons about the scoffers, like we see so often on the social media. It doesn’t even say we should avoid them. It says we are to LOVE them!

Here is behavior God wants from us.

27 “But to you who are listening I say: Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, 28 bless those who curse you, pray for those who mistreat you. 29 If someone slaps you on one cheek, turn to them the other also. If someone takes your coat, do not withhold your shirt from them. 30 Give to everyone who asks you, and if anyone takes what belongs to you, do not demand it back. 31 Do to others as you would have them do to you.

32 “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them. 33 And if you do good to those who are good to you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners do that. 34 And if you lend to those from whom you expect repayment, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, expecting to be repaid in full. 35 But love your enemies, do good to them, and lend to them without expecting to get anything back. Then your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High, because he is kind to the ungrateful and wicked. 36 Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” Luke 6:27-36(NIV)

God loves us so much that he even gave us the power to love our enemies. However, we can only do it through God’s power given us through the Holy Spirit.

To him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you before his glorious presence without fault and with great joy— 25 to the only God our Savior be glory, majesty, power and authority, through Jesus Christ our Lord, before all ages, now and forevermore! Amen. Jude 1:24-25(NIV)

Next time you hear a pastor give this benediction, think about what it really means. God is with us! It is only through His power that we will be able to endure to the end!

 

Note: All scriptures used in this article have been downloaded from http://www.biblegateway.com/?version=NIV unless otherwise noted.