Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Anger: Putting Out the Fire

I come by it naturally.

It is in my nature to get miffed, upset, and/or angry when things don't go the way I expect or desire.

I can feel the tension growing inside me.

I try to suppress it,

           to keep the hot, burning "fire" contained,

but every once in awhile the fire of anger becomes wild, out of control and out


                 my cruel, raging words and dark feelings.

We all know that good things aren't going to happen when an uncontrolled, all-consuming fire is loose in the home.

That is what unrighteous anger is.

It consumes and damages all in its path.

The Bible says in James 1:20 that the wrath (or anger) of man does not produce the righteousness of God. Man's wrath damages and does not bring about any good.

This unrighteous way of dealing with anger is in my nature - my sinful nature -, but I don't want my sinful nature to have dominion over me.

In fact God says our nature needs to die and a new godly nature needs to replace it. It is the only way to truly deal with and extinguish the fire of an angry spirit.

How is this miracle of obtaining a godly nature (for it certainly is one!) to take place?

Galations 2:20 says: “I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me.”

I don't believe we can win the battle over our sins by ourselves. Not by a long shot. We need real, serious help. We need power to overcome.

And in Christ we have all of this through faith. He is that ever-present Help in time of need that we so desperately need.

But once we have recognized we have a problem and given it to Christ,

then what?

Are you suddenly free of anger? Never again will you lash out at someone? No more grumbling under your breath about what so-and-so did?

Sometimes God does take it away immediately, but usually it is a process that takes time.

He wants us to learn to lean on Him and to walk with Him. And THAT takes time and experience.

Learning to cooperate with God and really LONG for His righteousness so that we choose not to want to do ANYTHING to separate us from Him is the work of sanctification. It is the process of being made into His image.

Paul talks about this in Colossians 2:6,7: "As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."

Paul also said in Ephesians 4:31,32: "Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamor and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. And be kind to one another, tender-hearted, forgiving each other, just as God in Christ also has forgiven you".

In other words, once we have been "crucified" with Christ and given Him our sin, we are to then walk by faith the path that Christ did. The old self is dead. Live in the new nature.

This is not our works. It is Christ working in us. He will not work in us without our permission. He gives us a choice and always honors our choice. When we choose to let Him work and live in us, we must cooperate with Him and walk in His ways - not by our own strength, but by leaning and trusting and looking always to Him.

Here are some tips that I have found helpful in overcoming anger and abiding in His presence.

1). Start your day talking to God and surrendering your day to Him. I do this before I am even out of bed. It doesn't have to take very long. Acknowledge Him and ask Him to lead you today.

2). Talk with Him throughout your day. This is the "pray without ceasing" mandate found in 1 Thess. 5:17. It doesn't require getting on your knees and closing your eyes in prayer. You can talk to Him in your thoughts at any time throughout your day. He is your ever-present help and companion.

3). Read your Bible and claim promises for your life. Make them personal and believe that they are meant for you.

4). Live in His presence. Would you really get angry if you believed that He was right there in the room with you? Imagine that He is seated in the same room as you are, for really He is truly there. (Matt. 28:20)

5). Stop, drop and roll. Isn't that what we learned to do if our clothes catch fire? Well, when you are angry, you are in essence on fire! So when you become aware that your anger is rising you need to:

                                      a). Stop.  Stop what you are doing.

                               b). Drop.  Drop your expectations of that other person or situation. Forgive and trust.

                               c). Roll.    Roll with it. Do the next thing. Breathe and carry on looking onto Jesus.

6). Realize that God always has a way of escape. It is not usually difficult to find. Many times the best response to anger is silence.

7). Forgive others. Most of us have real hurts from the past. These hurts and injustices can trigger present-day anger and need to be dealt with. As God reminds you of them, give them to Him. Forgive those who have hurt you. Relinquish all your hurts and feelings to Christ and accept healing in exchange. Realize that forgiveness is an act, not a feeling.

8). Forgive yourself. No matter what you have done in the past, God can and will forgive you when you come to Him in sincerity and earnestness asking for His forgiveness and mercy. He will wash you "whiter than snow". We all need it. Continually.

Walking with Jesus through faith in Him and allowing Him to clean you up and change you into His image is a lifetime process and an absolute must for the Christian.

With Christ as our Master, our Guide, our Light, our Friend, He will douse the fire of an angry spirit that will never burn again. He will change us into His image. He is our victory.

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