Facing Your Feelings offers specific advice for handling a variety of emotions with honesty and maturity including: anger, unforgiveness, rejection, bitterness, envy.
I hope the ideas I've shared in this book have prompted you to consider how healthy, God-given emotions can enrich your life spiritually as well as in your everyday activities and attitudes.
To help you delve deeper into the lessons and suggestions presented in these pages, you might use these questions for personal or group study. They were designed to be studied ahead of the lesson. You'll find that your personal interaction with the Scriptures will give you a greater knowledge of the ways emotions can affect your life and enhance your relationship with God, with others, and with yourself.
2. Read John 1:12-13. What is one of the wonderful things that happens when a person trusts Jesus Christ as his or her Savior?
3. Do you think of emotions in a positive or a negative way? Do you think there is a connection between your emotions and your spiritual life?
4. Are you controlled by emotions that hinder your spiritual growth, such as bitterness, envy, inferiority, or rejection? Read Colossians 3:13-15 and write down a specific way you can begin to deal with an emotion that is a problem for you.
6. Read 1 Peter 2:2. What is the first thing that is essential for growth to spiritual and emotional maturity? How does this help us mature?
8. Read Hebrews 10:25 and Colossians 3:16. Name something else that is necessary for growth to maturity. What benefits do we derive from being with other believers? Can you think of someone who has helped you mature?
9. Read Matthew 7:24-27 and James 1:22-25. Are studying Scripture, prayer, and fellowship with other Christians enough? What else is essential for our growth to maturity? Can you think of a time when you obeyed a specific Scripture and it changed your life?
10. Read Hebrews 5:13-14. How can disobedience retard your growth to maturity?
1. Read Exodus 15:22-27. What did God intend the healing of the bitter waters to teach His people? In what way was this a test? What is usually your response to difficult circumstances? Can you think of ways God has tested you?
2. How did God reveal Himself here? What did the Israelites' future well-being depend upon? How would obedience to God's commands contribute to mental, emotional, and spiritual health for anyone?
3. Read Isaiah 30:25, 57:17-18, and Psalm 147:3. Whom and when does God promise to heal? Read Isaiah 35:3-6 and write down what Isaiah said the Messiah would do when He came. Read Acts 10:38 and record how Jesus fulfilled this prophecy.
4. Read 2 Timothy 3:16-17. Why can we trust God's Word? What will it do for us? Can you think of a specific time when God's Word rebuked, corrected, or instructed you in the right way to live?
5. Read Isaiah 53:5. Do you think Isaiah's statement, "by his wounds we are healed" refers only to physical healing? Is it a guarantee that we will always be healed when we ask for it? Read 1 Peter 2:24 and see how Peter applies Isaiah's prophecy to Jesus. List some things for which we all need healing. Now write down one problem in your life for which you need healing. Note some Scripture verses that have encouraged you to turn to God for healing.
6. Scan one Gospel and note the different persons and conditions Jesus healed. Write down some of the words Jesus said to heal them. Read Luke 7:1-10 and note what was remarkable about this incident. What was the only thing the centurion asked Jesus to do? Read Psalm 107:1-2, 17-22 and find what God used to heal "those he redeemed."
1. Read Genesis 13:1-18, 19:1-38. What did Abraham's solution to resolve the quarreling among the herdsmen reveal about him? Read Genesis 12:6-7. What does Lot's choice reveal about him? What should Lot have remembered?
2. Read Genesis 13:12-13, 14:12, and 19:1. Trace Lot's assimilation into Sodom's society. What did his selfish choice cost him? What principle do you see here for us?
3. Read Mark 9:33-37 and Luke 9:44-48. What was one thing that motivated the disciples to follow Jesus? What were their expectations? How did Jesus define greatness? What example did He use? What characteristics of children did He want them to have?
4. Read Matthew 20:17-28 and Mark 10:32-45. What were the ambitions of James, John, and their mother? What was remarkable about the timing of their request? How did Jesus define greatness? Whom did He use as the example of greatness?
5. From the examples of Lot and the disciples, what do we learn about the effects of selfish ambition and self-centeredness on our character and our relationships?
7. Read Galatians 5:22-23; 1 Corinthians 13:5; Philippians 2:1-11; and Romans 12:10, 13. What is the source of an unselfish interest in others? How will this be demonstrated in our interpersonal relationships? In our service for the Lord?
8. Is self-centeredness keeping you from spiritual maturity? Is there a particular area where this is obvious? Memorize a verse that helps you, and then apply it to your life.
2. How do we know that Zaccheus felt guilty? What did he confess? What did his intent to make restitution indicate? Read Exodus 22:1, 3-4. What must a person recognize before he or she trusts Christ as his or her Savior?
3. Why did Jesus say, "Salvation has come to this house"? Read 1 Peter 3:18, Ephesians 1:7, and Hebrews 9:14. Does just confession of sin and restitution save us? How does Jesus cleanse us of a guilty conscience?
5. What does 2 Samuel 11:27 tell us? Why do you think Nathan approached David the way he did? Why was David so angry against the hypothetical man?
6. What was David's response to Nathan's statement, "You are the man"? Read 2 Samuel 12:13 and Psalm 51. How do we know David realized the enormity of his sin? Did God forgive him? Did he escape the consequences of his sins?
7. Read 2 Samuel 12:14. Why is it so serious when a believer flagrantly sins? Read 1 John 1:9. How can we be forgiven? On what basis does God forgive us? What does it mean "to confess our sins," and why is it necessary?
8. Do you feel guilty about something that is so bad you think God can't forgive you? What have you learned about God's forgiveness? Will you do what is necessary to receive it?
1. Read Genesis 27. Why did Jacob leave home? What reasons did he have to fear Esau? Was Esau justified in his anger?
2. Read Genesis 28:10-21. What assurance did God give him on his journey? How did Jacob respond?
4. Read Genesis 32 and 33. With what attitude did Jacob approach Esau? Why was he so afraid? Analyze his prayer in Genesis 32:9-12. Do you ever pray like that? What did he expect to accomplish by his lavish gifts?
5. Read Genesis 32:22-32. What was the significance of Jacob's encounter with God? What should he have learned? What did he do next that proved he was still afraid of Esau?
6. Why do you think Esau's feelings about Jacob had changed? Did Jacob completely lose his fear of Esau? Read Genesis 33:12-17. What more could God have done to reassure Jacob?
7. Is there something you are afraid of? How does God give us confidence today to overcome our fears? Read Psalm 34 every day for a week and write down what God promises to do for you. Choose one verse to memorize and pray it back to God every time you feel afraid.
1. Read 2 Kings 6:8-23. What did Elisha do repeatedly to frustrate the king of Aram's strategy? How did Elisha know his plans?
2. What did the king do to get rid of Elisha? Did the servant have a legitimate reason to be afraid? Where did he turn for help?
3. How did Elisha reassure the servant? What did the servant see? Did what the servant worried about ever happen?
4. What do we learn for ourselves from this incident? Read 2 Corinthians 10:3-5, Ephesians 6:10-18, and Hebrews 1:14. What provision has God made for our protection today? How should our awareness of God's promises affect our attitudes when we are involved in worrisome circumstances or relationships?
5. Read Matthew 6:25-34. List the reasons Jesus tells us not to worry. What command and promise does He give us in Matthew 6:33? Do you need to make an adjustment in your priorities to heed this command? How does this promise work as an antidote for worry?
6. What specific things do you worry about—health, marriage, children, money, abilities, social acceptance, friends, Christian life, the future? Write down your specific worries and apply to each item on your list the reasons Jesus gives not to worry. Then, with an act of your will, tell God you trust Him for each worry specifically. What will you do the next time that worry sneaks into your thoughts?
1. Read Genesis 37. Describe how Joseph's brothers felt about him. Why did they feel this way? Did Joseph deserve this hatred?
2. What does the brothers' treatment of Joseph reveal about their characters? What did it reveal about their feelings toward their father?
3. Read Genesis 39-41. Describe Joseph's character. Did his brothers' rejection and cruelty toward Joseph affect his integrity? Did false accusations or abandonment disillusion him? Read Genesis 39:2-6, 21-23. What was the reason for Joseph's success?
4. Read Genesis 39:9; 40:8; and 41:16, 25, 28, 32, 38) What was Joseph's view of God during the thirteen years of his bondage? What is remarkable about this in view of his circumstances?
5. Have you ever been unjustly treated or slandered? How do you feel about it? Have you become bitter? Have you withdrawn so you won't be hurt again? Have you become cynical about trusting people? Are you angry at God?
6. Read Genesis 42-45. Why do you think Joseph put his brothers through so much before he revealed himself to them? What did he want to be certain of ? How had they changed?
7. What conclusions about the events of his life had Joseph come to during his long exile in Egypt? Read Genesis 45:4-8 and 50:19-21. Why was Joseph able to forgive his brothers?
8. How do you think the story might be different if Joseph had allowed bitterness and resentment to fester in his spirit? Are you bitter about something that has happened to you? Will you, by an act of your will, believe that God will use that difficult circumstance for good in your life and the lives of others?
1. Read Matthew 23, Mark 10:13-16, and John 2:13-16. What made Jesus angry? What do we learn about God from this? What makes you angry? How do we distinguish between anger that is sin and anger that is not sin?
2. Read Exodus 32. Whose anger does Exodus 32 describe? After reading this chapter, do you think anger is always a sin? Why or why not? What do we learn about God's anger in Exodus 34:6 and Psalm 30:5?
3. Read Numbers 20. What did Moses do from anger and frustration? Consider Moses' angry action in light of James 1:19-20. Can you think of an incident in your life where you spoke or acted rashly in anger? What was the result?
4. Read Ephesians 4:26-27. What is the warning in these verses? What is the practical advice on how to handle anger? What does it mean to "give the devil a foothold"? What might be some of the results?
6. Read Romans 6:11-18. Substitute "anger" or "rage" every time the word "sin" appears. What has God done to free you from this sin? What must you do to experience this freedom?
1. Read Genesis 29-30. What do you think is the difference between jealousy and envy? Make two lists describing Rachel and Leah.
2. Remember that both Rachel and Leah had to cooperate in the wedding-night deception of Jacob. How do you think that affected Rachel and Leah's relationship with each other?
3. What did Rachel have that Leah wanted? What did Leah have that Rachel wanted? How did each woman try to get what she wanted?
5. Do you think either Rachel or Leah ever got over her envy of the other? What effect did their relationship have on their family life? On Jacob? Read Genesis 37:1-11 and consider how their relationship continued to have an impact on their children, even after Rachel's death.
8. Do you feel jealous or envious of someone else for something he or she is or has? How has this affected your relationships and your spiritual life?
9. First John 1:9 is the provision God has made to deliver you from destructive emotions, including envy and jealousy. Based on what you have learned, what will you do about it?
1. Read Genesis 29:16-30:24. How do you think Leah felt, knowing she was not as beautiful or as desired as Rachel? Imagine her feelings at Jacob's reaction when he saw who his bride actually was the next day. Do you think she felt rejection?
2. What do you think her marriage was like? Imagine the different ways the statement "he loved Rachel more than Leah" was demonstrated in their marriage.
3. How did God compensate for Leah's rejection? In that day what gave a woman status and value?
4. What were Leah's expectations when she bore her first son? Were they fulfilled? What was she willing to settle for by the time she had her third son?
5. Where had Leah's focus shifted when her fourth son was born? What conclusion does it seem she arrived at?
6. Genesis 30 records the mutual jealousy and competition between Rachel and Leah. What do we learn about Leah in what she named her maid's children? What does the incident with the mandrakes (which were thought to produce fertility) tell us about Rachel? Leah? Jacob?
7. Read Genesis 33:1-3. What did Leah want from her husband when her sixth son was born? What does Jacob's arrangement of his family indicate? Imagine how Leah felt with the constant evidence that she was not loved no matter what she did.
8. Have you experienced rejection by your family, husband, children, or friends? How have you responded? Has it diminished your sense of worth?
9. Read Ephesians 1:3-14 and 1 John 4:7-19. Write down all the things described in this passage showing what God did to demonstrate His love and acceptance of Leah. How might your feelings change if you base your value on God's acceptance rather than human rejection?
2. Why do you think Exodus 20:17 is included as one of the Ten Commandments? What can result from coveting? What were the results in the story of Naboth, Ahab, and Jezebel?
3. Read Luke 12:13-21. Meditate on Luke 12:15, substituting your own name for the word "man's." Then list all the things you consider valuable. Name each of these "valuable" possessions individually in place of the words "abundance of his possessions."
4. Read Luke 12:21. What do you think Jesus meant by the phrase "rich toward God"? How does a person become "rich toward God"?
5. Explain in your own words the meaning of Luke 16:13. Have you had an experience that proves the truth of this statement?
7. What kind of wealth should we desire instead of material wealth? What is the difference between this kind of wealth and material wealth?
8. What things have you set your heart on—a better house, car, furniture, clothes? From a practical standpoint, how do you reflect an attitude of being "rich toward God"? In what practical ways are you laying up treasure in heaven? Do you need to confess the sin of greed and materialism and change the direction of your life?
1. Read 2 Chronicles 26. What were Uzziah's accomplishments? How do you think he felt when he saw enemies defeated and the country secure? What does 2 Chronicles 26:5 say was the reason for his success?
2. Read 2 Chronicles 26:16. What led to Uzziah's downfall? What did he do that was forbidden? What made him think he could do it? What were the consequences?
3. When you look at all the good things Uzziah did, why did this one act virtually end his effective reign? Can you think of reasons for God's severe judgment? What lesson can we learn from Uzziah's story?
4. Read Deuteronomy 8:10-18. What are the dangers we face when we experience success? What is the difference between pride and a sense of satisfaction?
5. Read Proverbs 8:13; 11:2; 13:10; 16:5, 18; and 29:23. What problems can pride cause us? What is God's view of this attitude?
7. Read 2 Corinthians 5:12, 7:4, 8:24; Galatians 6:4; and James 1:9. When is it all right to be proud? Is there someone about whom you feel this kind of pride? Write a principle about pride that you've learned from these passages.
8. What do you take pride in—your family background, home, income, appearance, accomplishments, social status? How has this affected your attitude toward others who are not in the same situation you are?
9. Select one of the verses cited in questions 5, 6, or 7 above that is most helpful to you and then memorize it. Ask God to make it real in your life and to cleanse you from the sin of pride.
1. Read Jeremiah 1. What purpose did God have for Jeremiah's life? When did He make those plans? What light does this throw on the humanity of the pre born child?
2. How did Jeremiah respond to this great responsibility? What emotions did he feel? Do you think he was justified in feeling this way?
3. What was Jeremiah's message to be? Would he be a popular preacher? What effect do you think this had on a person of Jeremiah's temperament?
4. What promises did the Lord make to Jeremiah? How did God equip him? How would Jeremiah be able to fulfill his ministry in the face of the opposition of the nation's leaders? What principle can we learn from Jeremiah's experience?
5. Is a feeling of inferiority or inadequacy an acceptable reason for refusing a responsibility that is offered to us? Have you ever done this?
6. Read 2 Corinthians 2:16 and 3:4-6. Did the apostle Paul always feel adequate for his tasks? What gave him confidence and ability?
7. Do you have feelings of inferiority and inadequacy? Do you have doubts about your ability to be a good mother? To keep your job? To get or keep a husband? To make good friends?
8. Where have your feelings of inferiority come from? What past experiences have reinforced them? What experiences have refuted them? Do you find it harder to believe good things about yourself than negative things?
9. 9. Read John 15:5; Philippians 2:13, 4:13; and 2 Timothy 1:7. In what specific areas do you feel inferior or inadequate? How will these verses help you overcome feelings of inferiority? How will you apply them?
1. Read Exodus 2:11-15 and Acts 7:23-25. What expectations did Moses have when he intervened to stop the Egyptian from beating the Hebrew slave? What emotions do you think he felt after his failure? What conclusions do you think he came to in his forty years of caring for sheep in the wilderness?
2. Read Exodus 3:1-5:23. What were Moses' expectations this time when he went back to intervene on behalf of the Hebrew captives? Why was he discouraged? Read Exodus 6:1-10. How did God encourage him? Read Exodus 6:12. What was Moses' response? What did that indicate?
3. Read Numbers 11:1-25. Why was Moses so discouraged this time? What did he ask for? In what two ways did God answer his request? What does this tell us about the methods God uses today to help us when we are overwhelmed?
4. Read 1 Samuel 27:1-12. What did David's discouragement cause him to do? What role did he have to play? Read Psalm 7:1-2. In what better way did he handle this problem another time? What principle in spiritual warfare do we learn from this incident?
5. Read Luke 24:13-27. What expectations did the disciples have? Were they right? What does Luke 24:21 describe as their reason for being disappointed? What are some reasons for our disappointments today? What can disappointment lead to?
6. Read Luke 18:25, 31-32. Do you think Jesus was disappointed with the disciples? What should they have remembered? What did Jesus say would have cured their disappointment?
7. What failed expectations have you had? Have you responded with disappointment and discouragement? From your study, what have you learned is the cure for disappointment and discouragement? Will you do it?
1. Read Exodus 15:22-25, 16:1-16, and 17:1-7. What was the reason for the Israelites' grumbling in each of the incidents described? Who did they grumble against? Who does Exodus 16:8 identify as their real target? What did the Lord do each time they complained? Why was He so patient with them?
2. Read Numbers 11:1-35 and 14:1-45. After two years, how did the Lord respond to the Israelites' constant complaining? Why was He angry? What should the Israelites have remembered? What severe punishment did He finally decree? What does this teach us?
3. Read Numbers 20:2-13 and 21:4-8. Did the people learn anything from their severe punishment? What further punishments did they bring upon themselves? How does this instruct us about God's attitude toward complaining?
4. Read 1 Corinthians 10:1-13. What are we supposed to learn from Israel's example? How does a complaining attitude harm us emotionally and spiritually?
7. Is there something you often complain about? Even if you don't verbalize it, do you think it? Do you usually look for the flaw in everything? Is it difficult for you to enjoy life? Confess your discontent as sin. Memorize one of the verses cited in questions 4, 5, or 6 above and say it every time you are tempted to grumble.
1. Read Ruth 1. What was the significance of Naomi's loss in that day? What positive and negative things do her instructions to her daughters-in-law reveal about her? What does Ruth's response tell us about her?
2. What was Naomi's emotional state on her return? Whom does she blame for her condition? Do you think this was justified? See also 1 Kings 17:17-24.
4. Read Ruth 2 and 3. Read Ruth 2:19-23 and consider when Naomi's faith begin to revive. Trace how God worked behind the scenes in Naomi's life to keep His promise in Deuteronomy 10:18. What people did He use?
5. Read Luke 7:11-15 and John 11:1-44. How did Jesus respond to those who were grieving? What does this tell us about expressing genuine grief? What do we learn from Him about helping others who have suffered loss? What insights do we learn from these passages about the attitude believers should have toward death? See also Hebrews 2:14 and 1 Corinthians 15:51-57.
6. Read Psalm 10:14, 147:3 and 2 Corinthians 1:3-4, 7:6-7. What do we learn from these passages about God as our Comforter? What methods does He use to comfort us? Can you think of times He has used these methods to comfort you? How does He use our sorrows to equip us to help others?
7. Have you suffered loss of some kind—a loved one's death, the end of a relationship, loss of property, moving away from friends, loss of health? What have you learned that can comfort you and strengthen your faith? What steps do you need to take when you are faced with sorrow and loss?
1. Read Jeremiah 1 and 2. What indication do we have that Jeremiah would lead a very lonely life? Would he be a popular preacher?
2. Read Jeremiah 16:1-8. What else did God demand of Jeremiah that increased his loneliness? What was the basic reason for his isolation? What message did God intend that isolation to bring?
3. Read Jeremiah 37 and 38. Why was Jeremiah beaten and thrown into prison and into the cistern? How could he have prevented this abuse? Why didn't he? What means did God use to help him?
4. Read Jeremiah 8:18-9:2, 15:10-18, and 20:7-18. What emotions did Jeremiah experience and express? What did he accuse God of? How did he feel about the way people treated him? What did he wish for himself?
5. Read Jeremiah 20:11-12; 31:31-34; 32:17-27, 37-41; and 33:1-9. What did Jeremiah believe about God that comforted him in his suffering and loneliness? Read Jeremiah 33:1-9. What did God promise about Jeremiah's country that gave him hope?
6. Read John 7:5; Mark 3:21; and Matthew 26:34-56, 27:46. What different kinds of loneliness did Jesus experience? What was ultimately the worst abandonment of all? Read 2 Corinthians 5:21 and Hebrews 3:18, 4:15-16 to learn some of the reasons for His suffering.
7. Read Psalm 68:6, 27:10; Matthew 28:20b; and Hebrews 13:5-6. Is loneliness always bad? What are good reasons for loneliness? What do we learn through loneliness to help ourselves and others? How does loneliness shift our dependence from people to God?
8. Do you ever feel lonely? Are you lonely for friends? For family? For a husband? In your marriage? Are you lonely for God? What steps of faith can you take from what you've learned in this study?
1. Read 1 Samuel 14 and 17. List the ways in which Jonathan and David were alike. How did they differ? What principles about friendship do we learn from these observations?
2. Read 1 Samuel 18. Who took the initiative in Jonathan and David's friendship? How might we have expected Jonathan to treat David in view of Jonathan's father's jealousy and fear of David's potential power? What does this tell us about Jonathan?
3. Read 1 Samuel 19 and 20. What did Jonathan do to protect David? How did this affect his relationship with his father?
4. What was the covenant Jonathan and David made with each other in 1 Samuel 20:13-17? Read 1 Samuel 23:15-18. How did Jonathan keep this covenant? Read 2 Samuel 9. How did David keep this covenant? What was the usual procedure when a new dynasty came into power?
5. Read 1 Samuel 15:26-28. What did Jonathan believe and accept? What does this tell us about Jonathan?
6. What does 1 Samuel 23:16 tell us about the spiritual dimension of Jonathan and David's friendship?
7. Describe the qualities of this friendship with specific adjectives. Do you have friendships with these qualities?
8. Is there someone you would like to have as a close friend? How might you initiate the friendship? What do you expect to get from it? What are you willing to give to maintain it?