Yesterday I was talking to you about the importance of your behavior, and the importance of the way you talk. And as I was saying, the way you behave is something that anybody can observe. And the way you talk is something that anybody can hear. But what I want to talk to you about this morning is something that nobody can necessarily observe, and I refer to that which goes on underneath your skin. Nobody can get out of your skin, can you? We all live there. It’s not really possible to tell what’s going on underneath your skin.
You can have a smile on your face and be pretty mad on the inside. You can look kind of glum and really feel pretty good. I remember one lady was telling me she was taken by surprise. She was the new lady in a nursery department, and the janitor came in and they had been doing some cut outs, and so there was paper all over the floor. He’s a fellow that always looked like that (glum), and he’d say, “You kids clean up this floor or I’ll throw you all in the furnace.”
The lady said, (gasping) “What kind of a man is that?” Then she looked at the children, and they were just smiling ‘cause they knew him, and all he was really saying was, “Hello kids, I’m glad to see you.” Well you couldn’t tell it by the way he sounded. And I think that’s often true, that if you try to make an estimate of what’s going on underneath an individual’s skin just because they’re looking grumpy, you might miss it.
One thing is for sure, you know what’s going on underneath your skin, whether anybody else does or not. And we have varying kinds of reactions, don’t we, to the same circumstances.
One mission director was telling me about two couples that he had located on an island, and they were to work with some of the natives. This was an Indian island where there was a reservation. This director came there one time to visit these two couples, and he walked into the one home and the couple said, “Boy, are we glad to see you. We’re so fed up with this place we can’t stand it anymore. The kids swear, and they got lice in their hair, and they don’t behave themselves, and when we have a Bible study for the old folks, they don’t come out, and we don’t like the taste of the water. We’ve had it, we want out of here.”
So he went to the next house - same island, same people, same living conditions. He opened the door, and this fellow’s face was all covered with soot, and he said to the director, “Come on in. You couldn’t believe what just happened. Why this house was as spic and span as it could be a couple of minutes ago, and then our old stove exploded and (poof) look at this mess. Isn’t that something?”
He says, “My, are we having the time of our lives around here. You know when we came, the kids wouldn’t behave, and they had lice in their hair, and the old folks didn’t come on time, or they slept through our Bible studies, and we found ourselves being pretty disgusted with them. And then it dawned on us that we were contradicting the very thing that we’re teaching these people. That God will fill your heart with love, and joy, and peace. Here we can’t stand these people, and we’re trying to tell them that they’re supposed to stand each other.
“You know, we just asked the Lord to forgive us and to fill our hearts with love and joy, and you know that just made all the difference in the world.”
He said, “By the way, the other day I was walking down on the dock and some of these Indians were going fishing, and I jumped in the boat and said, ‘Hey, would you take me along?’ And they tolerated me for a while. But you know, I’m making friends with these people. They still sleep through the Bible studies, but we love these people.”
Now there’s two couples on the same island working with the same people.
One of these couples mumbling and grumbling to themselves, and saying to themselves that love, and joy, and peace, would be ours if we could get off this island. That could be some of you talking the same way. “If I could get out of the situation that I’m in, that would do it for me.” But the other couple discovered that the good Lord was with them, and that the good Lord would come into their lives if you wanted Him to, right where they’re at.
You know, every day of your life you’re either going to reveal or conceal your reactions to what’s going on.
Now whether you reveal or conceal your reactions, you’re going to have some reactions, are you not? So we talk about feelings and emotions. We talk about good feelings and bad feelings, don’t we? We experience, sometimes, highly pleasurable and satisfying response to things, and so we call ourselves excited, or thrilled, or ecstatic, or exhilarated, don’t we?
You know that’s not a very good judge of whether your responses are good or not. You can be thrilled over cheating somebody. You can be ecstatic because you pulled a fast one on somebody. You can feel quite pleased with yourself because you successfully lied your way out of something. So just the criteria that I felt good about it is not really enough.
Then there’s another kind of condition. In this case, your muscles are all tensed up, and maybe your heart beats, pounding, and your hands are sweating, and you sense a spirit of hostility or anger, or rebellion, and we call it misery. Now this is one thing that I wanted to call your attention; the fact that when there are emotions involved, it involves your whole body.
There are bodily changes involved, and that’s why it’s so important for you to pay attention to a good knowledge of what the emotions are all about, because this is happening underneath your skin. This is where you live, and you can’t get out of your skin. Now you can get out of Florida, but you can’t get out of your skin. So I think it’s important that you listen carefully here, because you can either have a wonderful time underneath your skin, or a miserable time underneath your skin, and it’s all up to you.
There is nobody that can crawl underneath your skin. True? They could move into your house, but they can’t get under your skin. That’s where you live, and that’s the part that you can control.
Now I want to call your attention to some statements that some people make that are not Christians. And this man, Dr. English, is a Jewish fellow in fact. But I’m calling to your attention that whether people are Christian or not, there is agreement as to the effects of emotions on your body. Now let me just read what he said. He said, “There are certain emotional centers in the brain, and they’re linked to the whole body with what we call the auto-nomic nervous system.”
So he described charges of emotion that originate in the brain and spread down the spinal cord and all through the body, and it will affect the blood vessels, and the muscle tissues, and the mucus membranes, and even the skin. Now under emotional stress, he points out that all parts of the body are subject to physical discomfort because of the change of blood nourishment or glandular functioning or muscle tone.
Now maybe you could ask, ”How could thoughts and feelings going on in my head cause pain in some other part of my body?”. Have you ever gone to the doctor with some aches and pains, maybe muscular aches and pains or your digestion wasn’t working right, or your heart was palpitating, or you’re all worn out, and the doctor examines you and looks at you, and he says, “Do you have any problems?” Have you ever had that experience? You wonder to yourself, ”What difference does it make to him whether I have any problems or not? I came here because I ache.” But you see, he knows that there is a relationship.
For instance, an emotion such as fear, he says, can cause the mouth to become dry. Isn't that right? I remember one time we had a lady come to our church. She was a missionary, and she got up to speak. And she began licking her lips and swallowing, and we realized that her saliva glands weren’t working, and she kept that up, and we started licking our lips for the poor lady. After a while, one man, he thought he was doing her a favor, he went and got a glass of water and brought the water up. The lady tried to drink the water, but it didn’t help. You see, she was afraid of us, and as a result of being afraid of us, her mouth went dry. Isn’t that something?
Laboratory tests show that under stress of emotion this same decrease in glandular activity can occur in the mucus membranes of your digestive tract. Not only does the blood supply change markedly, but secretions of various types increase or decrease in an abnormal manner, and changes in muscle tone and in the digestive region can occur, causing painful cramps. And you see, that’s what colitis is. It’s a cramp in the colon.
And you go to a doctor and you’re limping along and you say, “Oh, oh, I hurt.” The doctor says he can’t find anything wrong, and you say, “You can’t find anything wrong?!? I can hardly stand the pain.”
Now how could that happen? Well now, let me illustrate. You take; you can do this if you want to, too, just double up your fist. That hurts doesn’t it? What do you want to hurt yourself for like that? Look what I’m doing. I’m cutting off the blood nourishment. It’s getting purple here, and white here, and it hurts. And you say, “Well stupid, why don’t you just relax your fist?” Yeah, look what I did to myself
Now I can control that muscle. Your colon is also a muscle, except you can’t control it, but that’s what happens to your colon. It does the same thing.
All it does is tighten up when you’re mad. You’ve heard people say, “I can’t stomach him.” And you’ve got a stomach ache. It has also been proven that emotional stress will increase the size of the blood vessels in your head. Did you ever hear anybody say, He gives me a headache.” And you got a headache? Now what happens there is that the blood vessels in your head simply dilate like that, and press against the nerve ending around the blood vessels, and so the nerve endings hurt. There’s nothing wrong with your head.
Something wrong with your heart and you feel it in your head. This is an amazing body we have isn’t it? Now let me read you what he has to say about the heart. Listen to this, “Without the presence of any heart disease whatever, psychosomatic patients are prone to increased heart rate.” Have you ever found yourself getting angry, and at the same time realize that your heart’s pounding? Just cause you’re mad. Boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. And you're hands are sweating.
You see, there’s a relationship between your spiritual condition and your bodily condition. “Without the presence of any heart disease whatever, psychosomatic patients are prone to increased heart rate and irregularities of rhythm, unusual sensations about the heart such as oppression and tightening and pain and numbness, and sometimes accompanied by a shortness of breath and a feeling of faintness, and weakness and giddiness. And along with this so called ‘spell’, there may be a general ’all gone‘ feeling, and free perspiration accompanied by a sinking sensation and a feeling as if the patient wanted to fall into a heap.”
You can have all of those sensations, nothing wrong with your heart. Now listen to this, “For decades,” he says, “it has been known that a personality problem which cannot be solved by the mind is prone to be turned over or taken up by some other part of the body. When an irritating friend or a troublesome family member cannot be coped with, the patient becomes sick.”
Have you heard folks say that? “You make me sick.” And you’re sick. He can’t stomach it or it gripes him.
Now the physician knows that the cause of these gastrointestinal disturbances is emotional conflict. He knows that it is the attitudes of generosity and responsibility struggling with an opposing wish to escape them. Then he lists the emotions that are involved, and listen to this list. “Hatred, resentment, rage, frustration, self-centeredness, envy, jealousy, sorrow, love need, fear.”
Did you ever hear of a list like that before? Would you know where to go to find a list like that? Let me read you one. In the fifth chapter of Galatians it talks about the works of the flesh. Let me read you the works of the flesh. This is in Galatians chapter 5, verses 19 to 21, “Now the works of the flesh are manifest which are these: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lust, idolatry, witchcraft.”
You say, ‘Well, those don’t apply to me.”
Well, let me keep reading. “Hatred, variance, emulations, wrath, strife, seditions, heresies, envyings, and murders.”
You see, that’s the same kind of list that this man is talking about. And on the basis of scientific research, and collecting the data that he has gotten from his patients, all he has come up with is a simple Biblical principle.
You know when the Bible says that, you don’t need a research project. All you need to do is take the Bible at its word. And so here is a man who has nothing to do with God at all, comes to the same conclusion that the Bible does. He could have saved himself all that research, couldn’t he, if he’d have just taken the Bible at its word.
Now listen to this description by two other psychologists. “If aroused to a high pitch, shame, distress, hate, envy, jealousy, all strike to the very core of our being, and they leave us worn and tired, and incapable, and almost helpless. The blush of shame, the haggard contents of distress, the consuming burning of jealousy and envy, and the facial and vocal expressions of hatred are striking testimonials to the deteriorating effect of these emotions. We jump with joy or we droop with sorrow.”
See, these are just pagan people watching and observing what happens to us. Now some of you might have read a book, None of These Diseases by Dr. S. I. McMillian. And he’s a fellow that writes very graphically, and let me read to you a description in his book of hatred. He says, “The moment I start hating a man I become his slave.” Isn’t that right?
You might hate somebody that’s in another state and you are that person’s slave. Because here you are spoiling your week in Florida, because you hate somebody in another state. Now that’s slavery.
He says, “The moment I start hating a man I become his slave. I can’t enjoy my work anymore because he even controls my thoughts. My resentments produce too many stress hormones in my body and I become fatigued after only a few hours of work. The work I formerly enjoyed is now drudgery, and even vacations cease to give me pleasure. I may be in a luxurious car, driving along the lake, fringed with the autumnal beauty of maple, oak, and birch, but as far as my experience of pleasure is concerned, I might as well be driving a wagon in the mud and the rain. The man I hate hounds me wherever I go. I can’t escape his tyrannical grasp on my mind, and when the waiter serves me porterhouse steak with French fries and asparagus, and crisp salad, and strawberry shortcake smothered with ice cream, it might as well be stale bread and water.
“My teeth chew the food and I swallow it, but the man I hate will not permit me to enjoy it. The man I hate may be miles from my bedroom, but more cruel than any slave-driver, he whips my thoughts into such frenzy that my inner spring mattress becomes a rack of torture. The lowliest of surfs can sleep, but not me. I really must acknowledge the fact that I am a slave to every man on whom I pour the vials of my wrath.”
You know, I’ve been saying repeatedly this week that we would not tolerate anybody around here that came in drunk, or swore, or stole, but you can sit here and be full of hatred and resentment, and rage, and full of self-centeredness, and jealousy, and you’d be acceptable here. I’m just trying to impress upon you the difference between social standards and God’s standards. You know we can tear ourselves up with these kinds of emotions, and even though we are Christians. And so the presence of these emotions: hatred, and resentment, and rage, and jealousy, and envy, whether you express them or whether you hold them in, they lead to misery don’t they?
Let me give you a look at some Bible verses. Have you noticed this week I very seldom quote anybody else? But I just think that this subject of what goes on underneath your skin is so important to you that I’m trying to impress upon you that even the world psychiatrists and psychologists who have consciously rejected the scriptures, have to agree with what the scriptures say about the emotions, and the destructive affect of those emotions.
Psalm 37:8-9, this is the Bible talking now, the Bible doesn't go into all of the detail that these men did, but we understand why the Bible is saying this. It says, “Cease from anger, and forsake wrath, and fret not yourself, it leads only to evil doing.” Isn’t that an interesting statement? “Fret not yourself.” Isn’t that amazing that we would want to do that to ourselves. Get ourselves all worked up, full of anger and resentment, with our muscles all tensed up, and our hearts pounding away, and our digestive process not working. Isn’t it incredible that we would do that to ourselves? “Fret not yourself; it only leads to evil doing.”
Ecclesiastes 7:9, “Do not be eager in your heart to be angry, for anger resides in the bosoms of fools.” That’s what the Bible said.
Psalm 38:8, “I am numbed and badly crushed, and I groan because of the agitation of my heart.” Isn’t that awful that we would do that to ourselves?
Proverbs 15:17, “Better is a dish of vegetables where love is than a fatted ox and hatred with it.”
Proverbs 14:30, “A tranquil heart is life to the body, but passion is rottenness to the bones.”
Psalm 37:1, “Fret not yourself because of evil doers, be not envious toward wrongdoers.” Why not? Why shouldn’t I get all worked up over a wrong doer?
Well, because don’t you realize that all that working up is underneath your skin? You're not bothering anybody but yourself.
Proverbs 28:1, “The wicked flee when nobody is pursuing, but the righteous are bold like a lion.”
James 3:16, “Where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder in every evil thing.”
Let me give you some stories that some of my clients have told me about this. This one man and his wife took off for a skiing vacation, and they just had a beautiful week. When they got there, there were some rooms empty that were cheaper rooms, and so they switched from their expensive room to a cheaper room, and they were happy about that. And they just had a beautiful week of skiing. And they spent every night beside the fireplace. And they were just thrilled with the whole week. Until it came time to check out. And at the desk they said that, “You made a reservation for the expensive room, and so we have to charge you for the expensive room.”
But they said, “We didn’t live in the expensive room.”
“Well that was up to you, that was your privilege. You didn’t have to live in it if you didn’t want to, but we’re going to charge you for it.”
“You can’t do that to us!”
You know they got so upset that they wiped out the whole week. Isn't that too bad? You say, ”Yeah, but it was dirty trick.” Sure it was a dirty trick, but why should a dirty trick wipe out your week? You know, all they could think about is the dirty deal they got, which just took a couple of minutes. They don’t remember about the beautiful skiing, and the wonderful times around the fireplace. All they do is remember the dirty trick.
Now when you maul things over in your mind, what do you remember?
Now, I’ve talked to people about their pet peeves, and people sometimes have a complaint about somebody else that’s twenty years old, thirty years old. I’ve talked to people who are angry at somebody who’s dead, and they just get to thinking about someone and what they did even though they’re dead, and it just makes them mad all over again. Now that’s a shame, isn’t it? I had said to these people, I thought this was good news, I’d say to these people, “You know, you can cast your burden on the Lord. You don’t have to resent that.”
I would watch their faces fall. I thought that was good news. You know what I found out? That the older your grudge gets, the more precious it becomes. It becomes kind of like a family heirloom. When you have an odd moment, and you don’t have anything else to do, you see, you can get out your pet peeve, and get yourself all worked up over it. There’s nobody home, nobody around, just you. Now anybody ought to be able to appreciate the fact how dumb that is. To get yourself all worked up when there’s nobody there.
There’s just something strange about, something pleasurable about nursing a grudge. And you know what I’ve learned? For many people to give up your pet grudge is not a blessed relief. It’s a supreme sacrifice. Odd isn’t it, that we would be that way?
Well, let me give you another illustration. This young fellow came around. Big, husky, broad shouldered football player, and he was a star on the college football team, the kind that made headlines. He was basking in that kind of attention for three whole years, and then he graduated from college and got a job as a management trainee and discovered that he hadn’t learned anything in college. Therefore, he was useless to that company and he found that he had a very difficult time getting a job.
Now during those heavy days of all the cheer and the roar of the crowd every Saturday in the stadium, and enjoying looking at the headlines about himself, and he had his pick of the girls on campus and off campus, and in the meantime married one. He was having trouble with her, and he was having trouble with getting a job, and nobody cared about him anymore, and there he was bitter, and angry, and hostile. I tried to tell him, “You know, before you’re going to get anyplace in life, you’re going to have to cleanse your heart.”
He says, “Cleanse my heart?!? What’s wrong with me being bitter with all the dirty tricks that have happened to me? And how about all these tough breaks that I got? What do you expect me to be?”
Now you would think that if anybody could offer him some joy then he would grab it, wouldn’t you? How come you don’t?
Isn’t that amazing, that you would rather be mad than glad? You have the resources of God at your disposal, and you turn your back on it because somebody did something that you didn’t like, and you’d rather be mad than glad, even though there’s nobody around.
It can happen over little things.
Here is this man, he provided this beautiful, lovely home for his family, and they were just eating supper, and there were a couple of little kids, and one of them wasn’t going to eat his peas. The father says, “You eat those peas.”
The little kid wouldn’t eat ‘em, and the father said again, “You eat those peas!” and mother says, “Leave him alone.” And so he forgot all about the kid now. Now this man and his wife were starting a fight, over the peas. You know, it really doesn’t take a whole lot to expose your soul.
Just before I came here, I was at another conference and we had a cafeteria line to get our food. And this fellow was going through the line and they had these little glasses of orange juice like they give us, and this fellow took three of them. Well you have to admit they’re small. The attendant told him that he couldn’t have three of them. Well this fellow happened to be sitting at the table next to me, and he was sputtering, and grumbling, and griping about the fact that he couldn’t have three orange juices, all through the whole breakfast. Well, that’s the way we are, isn’t it?
Now this man was telling me he was standing in line, he had come early to buy some tickets for some kind of an occasion, and after standing in line half an hour, there were some people ahead of him. Some other folks came along who knew the people ahead of him, and they gave them some money to buy them some tickets, so they didn’t have to stand in line, and this guy got purple mad. You say, “Well why shouldn’t he?” Well why shouldn’t he? Listen, when you get purple, you aren’t bothering the fellow who just walked away, you are punishing yourself. Then that fellow also got all burned up because he got into a bottle neck in the parking lot after the thing was over. Well my goodness, if your peace depends on all those kind of things, it’s kind of sad, isn’t it?
Well now, what do we do about it? You remember the first session I called your attention to a Bible verse that Jesus said. He said this to us in John 14:27. He said, “Peace I leave with you. My peace I give unto you. Not as the world gives.” Now I believe this is a very important point for you to get straight and that is that there are two kinds of peace. There is the world’s kind and then there is the Lord’s kind, and it’s important that we know the difference between those two.
Now let me just call your attention to the world’s kind. It works pretty good, too, except it’s the world’s kind. You’ve got golf courses, tennis courts, and paddle ball courts, and handball courts, and swimming pools, and running tracks, and bicycle paths, and hiking paths, and health clubs, and water skiing, and snow skiing, and bowling alleys. We have all kinds of facilities where we can work off our tensions, right? These are all ways that you can find relaxation, and they work, and many of us depend upon the world’s kind of peace in order to get relaxed.
Now there’s more. There are all kinds of study courses all over the place where you can learn something about muscle relaxation. A while ago I was watching on T.V., and they had a Hindu swami on the T.V. demonstrating relaxation techniques. You know, that fellow sat there for fifteen minutes without twitching a muscle. That works!
You know that many years ago I used to work for a maternal health clinic, and we were working with pregnant ladies. And we were teaching these ladies something about muscle relaxation. And I want to tell you it made their pregnancy much, much easier, and it made childbirth very much easier. We cut the time involved in childbirth in half in that town, and now a days (that was in the forties) and nowadays, these kinds of relaxation classes for pregnant ladies are available everywhere. You know there’s a lot to that, this matter of consciously relaxing your muscles. But that’s not God’s peace, that’s the world’s peace.
Now there are a lot of other ways that you can get your mind off yourself. There’s books, and there’s T.V., and radio, and table games, and hockey games, and all kinds of hobbies. There are professional athletic contests that we can watch. There’s just all kinds of entertainment.
Now there’s another way that we can relax ourselves, and that is busyness, just keeping busy. Isn’t that true? There’s a kind of elation, and a joy, and a fascination about preparing a choir number. It’s fun to promote something. It’s fun to make money. And it’s fun to succeed, and receive praise, or to use a skill. It’s fun to meet people, and to entertain people. Or romancing is fun, and traveling is fun, and civic work or church work. You can throw yourself into these activities, and work off your tensions. Nowadays there’s a lot of people having a real relaxing time. Did you hear what I said? A real relaxing time, by kicking over the traces. And these folks report to me that they haven’t had so much fun in all their lives.
Some of you can remember kicking over the traces. Can you remember when you were in your late teens, and you turned your back on what you were taught and you never had any more fun in all your life? You still can look back on all that and realize it was fun! There are all kinds of things that you can do in this world to work off your tensions.
Nowadays people preoccupy themselves by discovering themselves, and it takes you many, many years to discover it just doesn’t work. I have read an interesting statistic lately. You know, nowadays, we have so many women turning their backs on being women, being mothers. But you know what’s happening today? Across the country there’s a wave of women in their thirties having their first baby. They’ve had their fill of their independence. Now they’ve been independent and gone their own way, and done their own thing, and away with the family, and they’ve had ten years at it. And it took them ten years to find out that they were on a trail that led to emptiness and nothingness.
But that’s the way the world is. It can keep you occupied for years, and we hardly realize that what we’re dealing with is our sins. There’s a deeper kind of a peace than the kind of peace that relaxes your muscles. There’s a peace that gets into your soul. This is one of the areas that concern me, because I encounter so many Christians who are preoccupied with finding peace just like the world does, in some of these ways that I described, and are tense, anxious people, and have never experienced the peace that reaches into your soul.
Jesus said this is in Matthew 11:28, “Come unto me.” That’s not the same as going to a gymnasium. Now look, I don’t have anything against gymnasiums. I work out regularly in gymnasiums, and I play tennis regularly, and I like to climb mountains, and I like to go snow skiing and water skiing, and I love activity. I may not be very active this week because I’m working on a deadline on a manuscript, but I’m not against activity. I’m simply trying to point out that there’s a difference between physical relaxation and the peace of God.
That’s two different things, and Jesus says, “Come unto me all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn of Me. I am gentle and humble in My heart, and you will find rest for your soul.” If you let the Lord give you a gentle, humble heart, you will find rest.
He says in John 15:11, “These things have I spoken unto you that My joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full.” You must ask Me for joy.
Now when do you need joy the most? When you’re around somebody that’s as cantankerous and nasty as they can be is when you need joy the most. That’s when it doesn’t even occur to you to ask for any, or you don’t even want any. I was telling you about my boss last night. When he wanted me he’d call me by saying, “Brandt!” That used to burn me up. I didn’t even want to like him. If I would have known where to go to get some love for him, I wouldn’t have gone there because I didn’t want any.
And you know that could be true of you. You’re stuck with some nasty, cantankerous, vicious character, and you don’t even want to like him, and you don’t have to. One thing that God won’t do is to cram His joy down your throat. You know if you could cram the Holy Spirit down people’s throats, then the fastest way to evangelize this county would be to get the strongest bunch of fellows you could, and grab every person one at a time. And from one corner of the county to the other, just grab them and shove the Spirit down their throats, but you can’t do that. This is one time when you’re independent. Nobody can make you ask God for joy.
You don’t want to be happy; you don’t need to be happy. Now part of God’s will is that you have the option to turn your back on His joy. Isn’t that funny that you would do that? Remember you’re only punishing yourself because all of this is going on underneath your skin.
John 16:33 He says, “These things have I spoken unto you that in Me you should have peace, in the world you’ll have trouble, but I have overcome the world.” You see what He’s talking about is an untroubled heart in a troubled world.
Now let me read you some Bible verses on the other side of the scale. Romans 15:13, “The God of hope fill you with all joy and peace in believing that you may abound in hope by the power of the Holy Spirit.” That’s different than working off your tensions.
When you have the joy of the Lord flooding your soul, you’ll have relaxed muscles. You won’t have to work anything off. Now there’s a lot of difference between a healthy, happy man doing his exercises, and a hateful, hostile man doing his exercises. You see, the happy man is simply toning up his muscles, and the unhappy man is getting rid of his tensions. Now there’s a difference between just toning up your muscles and getting rid of your tensions. Philippians 4:6-7, “Be anxious for nothing.”
What difference does it make how things turn out anyway? If it’s true that all things work together for good to them that love God and are called according to His purpose. Is that true? Well then, what difference does it make how things turn out today? Now a lot of us, we just go around reacting to everything that happens, one thing after another. I’ve been in the supermarket just last week, and a woman was saying, “Ooo, this makes me so mad! There’s that woman visiting with the woman at the cash register. What don’t they get on with it?”
Well you see, if your joy depends upon the choices of other people, you're sunk. You are never going to find any joy. And the more set in your ways you get, the older you get, the more miserable you're going to be. But you know, whether you open your heart to the Lord or not doesn’t depend upon how old you are, it depends upon your repentance. Let me finish that verse. “Be anxious for nothing, but in everything with prayer and supplication let your requests be made know unto God.”
Now that’s different than saying, “Lord this is Henry speaking; I’m giving You Your instructions for the day about me.”
Oh we don’t say it quite that way. We say “If it be Your will, Lord, lead her to do it my way.”
What we mean is, “Do it the way I told You to, Lord and if You don’t, I’m gonna get disgusted.”
Now there’s a lot of difference between giving God His marching orders, and making your requests know to Him. You know there’s a passage of scripture that says that His thoughts are not your thoughts, and neither are His ways my ways. And you know, when I pay attention to my praying, I realize how true that verse is, because there are so few of my prayers that turn out the way I ask them.
You just have to verbalize your prayers to realize that your thoughts are not His thoughts, and your ways are not His. So you make your requests know to God, you don’t give Him orders.
Now sometimes we say, “Well, I’ll put out a fleece. Lord, if these three things happen I’ll do it.”
Listen, there’s no place in the scriptures where you can box God in like that. Oh, now we read about the fleece story in the Bible. And you dig your Bible out and read it, and you’ll find out that the Lord had given him his instructions before he put out his fleeces, and there’s no guarantee that there’s going to be any three things happening to you.
We make our requests known to God, and the peace of God which passeth all understanding will guard your heart and your mind in Jesus Christ.
Once more, Colossians 1:11, “You can be strengthened with might according to His glorious power.” Not your power, His power. And what’ll that power do to you? “For the attaining of all steadfastness and patience joyously.”
Well I’m going to run out of time. I’m not going to get this finished so I’ll just pick it up tonight. Let me just tell you one story about patience and joy.
When we were raising our children, we had a rule at our house that said before you come downstairs in the morning you make your bed. Our son, it seemed like every morning, he would come bounding down the stairs and about the time he’d hit the bottom step, you’d hear Eva say, “Dick?” “Yep?” “Did you make your bed?” “Nope.” She’d say, “Well, then go on upstairs and make your bed.” You'd hear these footsteps go plod, plod, plod, and back he’d go and make his bed.
Sometimes, he wouldn’t go. Sometimes she had to help him. And by help I mean she had to lock her arm around his arm and drag him upstairs. Sometimes he needed more help than that, and so we both had to help him. Now, how long to you have to keep at a fellow about making his bed until he does it automatically? Well, at our house it took twenty years. That’s what I mean by patience and steadfastness. You see it’s not a (_____). After all, our spiritual condition had nothing to do with whether our son made his bed.
Now, our spiritual condition was revealed by whether or not he made his bed though. And when we were walking in the Spirit we just enjoyed dragging him upstairs making his bed. And when we weren’t walking in the Spirit we didn’t like it at all. But whether we responded to him joyously or not didn’t have anything to do with him. That depended upon whether or not we were yielding ourselves to the Lord. And He will strengthen you with all might according to His glorious power, unto all steadfastness and patience, joyously.
I hope that you know the kind of a God that I’ve been describing this morning, and in closing let’s just pray together. Our Heavenly Father, we thank You that You have given us a mirror, and we can see ourselves in that mirror, and when we think about the peace that the world gives, I do pray that each of us might pause and evaluate, be sure that our peace isn’t the world’s kind, but that our peace is Your kind. And I pray that each of us will reach out an empty hand and let You fill it with Your peace. We pray it in Jesus’ Name. Amen.