Is It Ever Okay To Be Angry At God?

Angry at GodI recently read an article where the writer claimed that it is perfectly okay to be angry at God. “God understands,” he concluded, “He can handle it.” Although it is certainly true that God understands how we feel and that He is perfectly capable of handling our emotions, that doesn’t mean that being mad at Him is ever right – or even “okay”.

To properly evaluate the writer’s assertion, we need to go back to what Scripture teaches about anger. Here are but a few examples: “Do not make friends with a hot-tempered person, do not associate with one easily angered” (Proverbs 22:24), “Human anger does not produce the righteousness that God desires” (James 1:20), “But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips” (Colossians 3:8), “Refrain from anger and turn from wrath; do not fret – it leads only to evil” (Psalm 37:8-9), “But I tell you that anyone who is angry with a brother or sister will be subject to judgment” (Matthew 5:22).

When you study the Bible, you’ll find that it clearly teaches that anger is a vice, not a virtue. That is, with one exception: There is something we refer to as righteous indignation, and this is a sentiment that God actually commends. Righteous indignation is what Jesus exhibited when He furiously turned over the tables of the money changers in the temple (Matthew 21:12-13).

So what was it that made this expression of anger righteous? What made it righteous was that Jesus was defending His Father’s glory – in other words, it was justified anger. God’s good Name and reputation was at stake, and Jesus took a stand for what is right and just and ethical. It was for the same reason He’d so often express anger over the hypocritical actions of the pharisees. This is not vice, but virtue.

Here’s how this applies to you and I: Anger is sinful unless our anger is directed toward what angers God Himself, namely those things that the Bible calls sin. As the moral lawgiver of the universe God gets to determine what is right and wrong, and if the things that make Him angry anger us – lying, stealing, murder, child abuse, rape, sexual sins, abortion, social injustice, etc, etc – then, our anger is justified and righteous because we are agreeing with God and His standards.

Now, let’s apply this as we try to determine whether it is ever “okay” to be mad at God. Question: Is anger directed toward God ever justified? In other words, has He ever done anything that was not perfectly good? Is being angry with God ever caused by some sin that God has committed?

The answer, of course, is no. Everything God does is right, fair, and absolutely just.

The inevitable conclusion we reach, then, is this: Since being mad at God is never justified, it will never qualify as righteous indignation, and therefore it is always wrong. Yes, God understands. Yes, God can handle it. But it is still sin. If we find ourselves being angry with the One who knit us together in our mother’s womb, loved us when we were His enemies, sent His only Son to die for us, and breathed life back into our dying souls, we need to confess, repent, and ask for God’s help to put away our anger.

This is the correct response – even in the deepest valley and in our darkest hour. Because no matter what we’re dealing with in life, God, my friend, is still GOOD.

 

How To Guard Your Heart

Guarding your heartProverbs 4:23 instructs us, “Above all else, guard your heart, for everything you do flows from it.”

In the Old Testament “heart” is used more than 800 times, which makes it one of the most commonly used words of the Bible.

Generally, when this term is used in Scripture, it refers to the thought life and the emotions – the things that motivate and mold us. God calls that the heart. So when the Bible talks about keeping or guarding the heart, it is instructing us to protect the inner core of our person – our thoughts, feelings, desires, will, and choices that make us who we are.

Just like our bodies can’t function properly unless our physical heart is healthy, so we can only bear fruit spiritually and function correctly in our relationship with God and others if the inner core of who we are is healthy.

In the New Testament Jesus affirms this principle when He teaches that it’s not what we eat or drink that make us unclean but rather the things that come out of our hearts: Don’t you see that whatever enters the mouth goes into the stomach and then out of the body? But the things that come out of a person’s mouth come from the heart, and these defile them. For out of the heart come evil thoughts—murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false testimony, slander” (Matt. 15:17-19).

All the issues of life – our actions, longings, goals, interests, etc. – all proceed from the heart. What we do in word and deed is first of all a product of what we are on the inside. And this is why we need to be diligent about guarding our hearts.

Want to know something really great? God made you so that you can’t think two things at the same time! So in order to keep from thinking what’s wrong, you simply need to think what’s right. Because if you’re thinking what’s right, you cannot be thinking what’s wrong. This is why the Psalmist says, “I have hidden Your word in my heart that I might not sin against You” (Psalm 119:11).

Bottom line: Guarding our heart is not so much about living by a list of dos and don’ts as it is about feeding our soul. When our inner person is strong, we are able to resist the temptations that might otherwise cause us to stumble.

 

When Nothing Seems To Be Happening

Waiting on GodAre you waiting on God to come through for you in a particular situation? Maybe it’s a family situation…maybe it’s your career, or your health…or maybe you’re waiting for God to show you your calling in life.

Maybe you’ve prayed for months, even years, yet nothing seems to be happening and you’re feeling discouraged.

Remember, though, that feelings are just feelings – your discouragement doesn’t say anything about the REALITY of the situation: God is still at work even if you can’t see it or feel it!

What I always do when waiting on God is try to remember that there is a lesson in trust, faith and patience that He wants to teach me in midst of it all, and that this is likely why there is a delay in the answer to my prayers.

And then, instead of focusing on the fact that my prayers haven’t been answered (yet), I find joy in the fact that God is right now doing an “invisible” work behind the scenes – a work in my own heart as well as in the hearts of the people involved in the particular situation.

It’s all about perspective…learning to have GOD’s perspective. And this is why, every day, I go to God in prayer and ask, “Lord, help me see what You want me to see and learn what You want me to learn.”

I encourage you to do the same: Ask God to help you see your situation with spiritual eyes! Then keep praying, keep trusting, and keep believing! :))

God Is Always Doing Good Things In Your Life

God is goodAs I was re-reading the story of Joseph this morning, I found myself meditating on the amazing truth that God works all things together for the good in the lives of His children. ALL things!

Our worst failures, our mess-ups, pain caused us by other people, even our sins – God uses it all to do a majestic work in our lives for our good and His glory.

Joseph was separated from his father, sold into slavery by his brothers, unjustly accused of a crime and thrown into prison…

He suffered tremendously, and I’m sure he must have asked himself countless times over the years, “Where is God? Has He forgotten me?”

And yet he ended up in the right place at the right time, exactly where God wanted him – namely in a place of prominence in the land of Egypt, where he was able to save the entire population from starvation, even his own brothers who had betrayed him!

As Joseph said to his brothers, “You meant evil against me, but God meant it for good.” (Genesis 50:20)

Never ever doubt that God is at work in your life just as He was in the life of Joseph – yes, even when it seems as if He is absent!

God sees everything and His plans are perfect. Trust and obey Him…you’ll never be sorry that you did! :))

Do We Dare Pray Like This?

Praying for God's willWaiting on God takes a lot of faith sometimes, but it’s one of the ways we learn to TRUST Him. Thomas à Kempis wrote:

“Lord, You know what is best. May Your will decide what shall be done. Give what You will, how much You will, and when You will.

Do what You know is best for me, do what pleases You and brings Your name the most honor. Put me where You will, and deal with me in all things as You please. I am in Your hand – turn me backwards and forwards, turn me upside down.

Here I am, Your servant, ready for anything, for I have no desire to live for myself, but only to live perfectly and worthily for You.”

Do we dare pray like this? Do we trust God enough to submit to Him that completely? So completely that we are not afraid to ask Him to take things away from us if He so sees fit? So completely that we are willing to let Him use us however He pleases?

Truly living for God means dying to self and laying everything at the foot of the cross, not holding anything back…

When The Grass Looks Greener On The Other Side…

Gratitude for the Cross“The grass is always greener on the other side of the fence.” We all know this saying. Of course, what it means is that we tend to look at what others have, thinking that their situation is so much better than ours, wishing we were in their shoes.

God’s Word refers to this as coveting, and coveting, according to the Bible, is a sin.

When we grumble and complain about our lot in life, looking at what others have, thinking “if only”…”if only my children were more obedient”…”if only I was making more money”…”if only I had a more fulfilling career”, etc. etc…when we do this, we do not honor God with our thoughts.

Rather what we do is we fail to acknowledge God’s sovereignty over our circumstances as well as His goodness. We’re essentially saying that we – feeble human beings – know better than the all-good, all-powerful, all-knowing Creator of the Universe. Or as Romans 9:20 puts it, “Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, “Why have you made me like this?” 

When we covet, we also fail to recognize who we are before God: The truth is that we deserve nothing good in life. We are sinners and all we deserve is condemnation. Yet God sent His only Son to die for us and to take our punishment – this so that we can have eternal life! Is that not enough? What more can we ask for?

No matter our situation, when we just stop and think about it, we realize that we have so, so much to be thankful for in this earthly life…so many blessings…ALL of us. And yet, of course, a thousand times more important than anything else that we possess, is the fact that we have the forgiveness of sins and the promise of Heaven.

So, next time we’re tempted to look over the fence, let’s instead turn our focus to where it belongs – the CROSS. It truly is the only way to keep things in their right perspective…

Let Us Not Labor In Vain

Trust GodA scripture that has greatly impacted my life is Psalm 127; 1-2: “Unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchmen stand watch in vain. In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for He grants sleep to those He loves.”

Many, many times have those words convicted me of my tendency to rely on myself instead of God. The fact that I so often seem to forget God is really the one at work… Which really means I’m not trusting Him.

Now, of course it is God’s desire that we commit to excellence in everything we do; that we work not unto men but as unto the Lord. But at the same time, I am convinced, He wants us to have balance in our lives.

Because…think about it…if we lack balance, we are not healthy, and if we are not healthy – mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually – how can we be effective ambassadors of His kingdom?

If we are always overworked, tired, stressed, anxious, then how will others look at us and say, “I want what THEY have…”? Then we are no different than the rest of the world, chasing after money, possessions, and recognition, not trusting that God will supply all our needs if we just seek His kingdom first.

And another thing: If we attempt to do all the work ourselves, not giving God room to move, then WE are the ones getting all credit. Then God does not get the glory!

Which brings to mind another powerful Bible passage – the 7th chapter of Judges:

Gideon has been given the mandate by God to fight the Midianites to save Israel. But when Gideon gathers his troops to advance on the Midianite camp, God actually tells him to reduce his men (!), first by twenty-two thousand, and eventually to the point where Gideon is left with only 300 men…300 men that God uses to defeat the vast number of Midianite warriors – just as He promised.

Why did the Lord do this? He did it “in order that Israel may not boast against Me that her own strength has saved her…” (v. 2)

Oh Lord, may You help us, your children, not to become self-sufficient but to remember, always, that it is You working through us. May we not labor in vain! And if You see the need to reduce our numbers, may You do so as You see fit, so that when we are victorious, it isYou, not we, that get the glory…

Thoughts On Trials

The storms of lifeWhen you make yourself available to be used by God, He starts to work on you to prepare you for service.

He works on you to get rid of all the junk that fills your heart, which is keeping you from being as useful to Him as you could be.

Are trials fun? Obviously not. But they serve a very important purpose in the life of the believer.

Is there anything more glorious than to come out on the other end of a trial, changed on the inside, strengthened in your faith and love for your Savior, seeing how God answered your prayers and glorified Himself in your life…?

The question is, are we truly heaven-focused? Do we REALLY want to live for God?

If so, instead of letting our trials bring us to despair, we need to ask God to use them to open our spiritual eyes so we can see what He wants us to see and learn what He wants us to learn.

“Blessed is the man who perseveres under trial, because when he has stood the test, he will receive the victor’s crown, the life God has promised to those who love him.” James 1:12

Spiritual Fast Food? No, Thanks!

Reading the BibleWhen it comes to spiritual discipline, I think we Christians are too easily content with doing the absolute minimum: Fifteen minutes of prayer and Bible reading in the morning, church once a week, and we’re “good” with God.

We offer very little of our time to the Lord, yet we wonder why we aren’t growing spiritually, why our relationships aren’t thriving, and why seem unable to discover God’s best plan for our lives.

There is no nourishment in spiritual fast food. If you want to experience a deep and meaningful walk with Christ, you need to pursue Him with passion. And the wonderful thing is that when you do – when you give Him your talents, your time, and your treasure – He will work out the rest of the details of your life. He will take care of you, provide for you, guide you, and give you everything He knows you need.

If you feel that your love for Him has grown lukewarm, ask Him right now to rekindle it. He loves you so much and there is nothing He wants more than for you to draw close to Him!

Serving God With Your Gifts

Giving backGod has gifted each of us uniquely with talents, abilities and experiences that He wants us to use for the Kingdom of God. The specific abilities He gave us individually are to be used to glorify God and strengthen the church.

What’s more, let us remember the example of Jesus who lived a life of perfect love and humility, always putting the needs of others before His own.

Consider that He who created the Universe willingly got on His knees and cleaned the dirty, smelly feet of men whom He knew would later deny Him – one of them, Judas, even betraying Him to His death!

So…all that to say this: Let’s seek our Father in prayer daily and ask Him to help us rid ourselves of self-focus and self-gain, making sure we aren’t trying to use our gifts to bring attention to ourselves but rather to glorify and honor our Lord and to build up the church.