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Managing Your Moods
By Mary Graham
Thomas NelsonCopyright © 2004 Thomas Nelson, Inc.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneA Bundle of Emotions
"A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil."
Clearing the Cobwebs
We all feel such a wide range of emotions. As you begin this study, which of your moods and emotions most trouble you?
When we start talking about moods and emotions, we must begin with the heart. I guess you could say it's the heart of the matter! We call it the seat of our emotions, and we try to explain our feelings by referring to it. People can be described as hardhearted, softhearted, openhearted, warmhearted, coldhearted, fainthearted, or even heartless. Some people wear their heart on their sleeve. We know what it's like to lose heart, take heart, have our heart set on something, have a change of heart, and have our hearts skip a beat. We know what it's like to do something to our heart's content. We can be heavyhearted, halfhearted, or lighthearted.
A story can be heartwarming, heart wrenching, or heartening. We can share from our hearts, set ourhearts on a thing, learn something by heart, have our hearts in the right place, and win the hearts of others. We have known heartache. We have been heartsick. Some days, we don't have the heart to face our work. Other days, we tackle the job heartily, going at it heart and soul. Those we love are always close to our hearts. We have people who are dear to our hearts set our hearts at rest. We know the kinds of things that do a heart good. We have read God's Word and taken it to heart. We have given heartfelt thanks for the blessings we receive. We know, in our heart of hearts, the right thing to do. And I hope, from the bottom of my heart, you will follow after God with all your heart. Whew! How about a hearty Amen to that!
1. The Scriptures are filled with descriptions of our hearts. Have you ever noticed how many amazing adjectives are used to describe it-for good or for bad? Let's take a few minutes to match the passages with the words it uses to describe the attitudes found in our hearts.
___ Psalm 112:7 a. standing in awe ___ Psalm 119:80 b. merry ___ Psalm 119:161 c. blameless ___ Psalm 131:1 d. backslidden ___ Proverbs 14:14 e. steadfast ___ Proverbs 16:5 f. haughty or humble ___ Proverbs 17:22 g. noble and good ___ Luke 8:15 h. proud
2. The Bible talks a lot about the heart, and the emotions tangled up within it. God knows we all have our ups and downs. What two emotional extremes are mentioned in Proverbs 15:13?
3. What kinds of things are going on in our hearts, according to Proverbs 16:9?
4. The psalms are wonderful for giving us glimpses into the inner turmoil of the heart. David's honesty allows us to compare notes on the most intimate levels.
In Psalm 25:17, what does David say his troubles have done?
Why is David so concerned about keeping his heart pure, according to Psalm 66:18?
What is the state of David's heart in Psalm 109:22?
We are moody people, as changeable as the weather. But because we're all so experienced in emotions, we know how to spot them. We can read faces. We can interpret body language. Usually, the attitude of our heart and the mood we are in come across loud and clear. Folks notice. Whether we realize it or not, we are being defined by the emotion we display most consistently. We'll make reference to the mood when we describe people to each other. "She strikes me as a very nervous person." "She's the clingy type." "What a whiner!" "Well, you know how possessive she is." "She's a cold fish." "She's so upbeat!" "Such a worrier!" "High-strung." "Snob." "Such a sweetheart." "Always so bubbly." We also notice changes in mood. "What's gotten into her?" "I wonder what's wrong with her today?" Though we might try to hide our inner turmoil, our emotions leak out when we're with other people.
5. Our moods can affect us physically. How does David's distress affect him, according to Psalm 102:4?
6. Our emotions can prompt us into action. What tangle of feelings led Paul to write his letter to the church in Corinth in 2 Corinthians 2:4?
7. When we allow our feelings-like worry, fear, and doubt-to carry us along, how does James 1:6 describe us?
8. We often say our goal should be to have the mind of Christ (Phil. 2:5). Now, there was a Man who was able to manage His moods! Jesus never allowed His feelings to lead Him into sin. Still, it's a comfort to know the LORD completely understands how we feel. How does Hebrews 4:14-15 describe Jesus' inner struggles while on earth?
9. Moods, emotions, feelings, attitudes of the heart-they are powerful and easily overrule what we know is the right thing to do. What exhortation does Paul make in Colossians 3:16 that can powerfully counteract the tugging of our hearts?
The Berean church in Acts didn't "invent" Bible study (Acts 17:11). In fact, such commitment to knowing and heeding God's Word is nothing new. Let's take a look at another verse of Scripture that talks about the importance of allowing the Word to dwell in our hearts-this time from the Old Testament. What does Moses say in Deuteronomy 30:14?
Ponder & Pray
In the days ahead, take time to ponder what is in your heart. Ask the Lord for a measure of detachment, so you can see the feelings that flit through your heart, the moods that shape your day, and the emotions that rule you. Tell the LORD what you are finding, and ask for His help in sorting out what you discover. Then, take some Scripture-perhaps some of this week's verses-and plant them in your heart. The heart is not easily swayed by swinging moods if it is the dwelling place of the powerful Word of God.
Trinkets to Treasure
At the close of every Women of Faith conference, women are asked to play a little game of pretend. Each conference guest is asked to imagine a gift has been placed in her hands-one from each of the speakers-to serve as reminders of the different lessons shared. This study guide will carry on this tradition! At the close of each lesson, you will be presented with a small gift. Though imaginary, it will serve to remind you of the things you have learned. Think of it as a souvenir. Souvenirs are little trinkets we pick up on our journeys to remind us of where we have been. They keep us from forgetting the path we have traveled. Hide these little treasures in your heart, for as you ponder them, they will draw you closer to God.
Trinkets to Treasure
Our moods affect our actions, our attitudes, and the people around us. Your gift this week is something to remind you about the complexity of the moods and emotions that are bound up in our hearts. It's a rubber band ball. Our hearts are just as complex-a bundle of emotions rather than those stretchy binders. And it doesn't take too much to make either one a tangled mess! Through careful study of God's Word, we'll attempt to unravel these feelings and avert a knotty catastrophe!
Chapter TwoHappiness at Any Cost
"He who is of a merry heart has a continual feast."
Clearing the Cobwebs
What changes would be necessary in your life in order for you to live "happily ever after"?
Though dozens of moods are available to women, we would all prefer to be in a good one. And though numerous emotions flit through our hearts every day, one feeling is esteemed more than all the others-happiness. We don't really mind what God has planned for us, so long as we are guaranteed happiness in the midst of it. We want to live happily ever after. And what keeps us happy? When things go our way. When everything runs smoothly in the direction we had hoped it would go, we are able to maintain a pleasant frame of mind. No bumps. No interruptions. No inconveniences. In order to maintain our personal contentment, we begin to avoid situations that might compromise our happiness.
I want no regrets, so I will take no chances. I do not want to feel shame, so I will blend quietly into the crowd. I don't want to be disappointed, so I'll lower my expectations. I do not feel happy when I am confused, so I won't bother learning anything new. I do not wish to be embarrassed, so I will avoid speaking up. I don't want to experience sadness, so I will not allow myself to care. We set up emotional comfort zones and stay within them. No one can make us budge, not even the Lord. We create our own happy, little bubble-a safe haven, untouched by others. We take firm control so we can always be happy. Happiness-no matter what the cost.
1. Our emotions can deceive us. Our own selfish desires attempt to overrule what our heads tell us is right. What does Deuteronomy 11:16 warn?
2. What does Jeremiah tell us about the human heart in Jeremiah 17:9?
3. Jeremiah further warns that people would rather listen to the dictates of their own evil hearts than listen to God (Jer. 16:12). What kinds of things come out of the heart, according to Mark 7:21-22?
4. Solomon was wise, even in matters of the heart. What does he say about our hearts in Proverbs 28:26?
"I just want to be happy." That's not so bad. That's not such an unreasonable desire, is it? Or is it not? When we place our own happiness as the highest goal in life, we do so at a great cost. In doing so, we decide our happiness is more important than anyone else's. This self-centeredness begins to skew our perceptions. We begin to insist on people jumping through our hoops. Everything should fall in line with our expectations. If we are not happy, then things need to change. It's all about me-my plan, my choice, my favorites, my best interests, my comfort, and my happiness.
What's worse, our happiness becomes more important than God's truth. The things He is asking in the Scriptures put a crimp in our style-they might just compromise our ultimate happiness. Convinced instead that God would want us to be happy, we begin to pick and choose the parts of the Bible we'll apply. We try to fit the Scriptures into our comfort zones. That's modular faith, and we're only deceiving ourselves. In so doing, we feel justified as we continue on the path to becoming little tyrants, little despots, and little gods.
5. So our hearts are deceitful. They can deceive us, so we can't trust them. What are we to do? Thankfully, God understands our hearts, even when they leave us confused. Look at these verses.
What is God able to see beyond, according to 1 Samuel 16:7? What does God know, according to Psalm 44:21? What does Jeremiah 17:10 say the Lord can do? In Hebrews 4:12, what is God's Word able to do in our hearts?
6. God knows your heart. So why not give it to Him? What does Proverbs 3:5 tell us to do-and not to do?
7. If we truly want God's help in managing our mish-mashed moods, He asks us to do ... what? Check out Psalm 34:18.
8. We join David in praying, "Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Your sight, O Lord" (Ps. 19:14). Check out the following verses to see how this can come about?
What must our prayer be, according to Psalm 51:10?
No matter what we may have done, what does Ezekiel 18:31 say we can do?
What does Hebrews 10:22 liken the changing of our hearts to?
9. Happiness should never be our ultimate goal. Rather, we should be looking for God to make us new and give us a pure heart. What does God promise in Ezekiel 36:26?
There are lots of verses in the Bible that talk about God giving us a new heart, another heart, a willing heart. Deceitful though they are, our hearts can be stirred to do that which is good and right and useful to the LORD. Here are just a few of those verses:
1 Samuel 10:9
1 Chronicles 28:9
Ponder & Pray
This week, pray for God to help you understand your own heart. Ask the Lord to bring its wily ways clearly to your attention. Then, as you see how easily your emotions can lead you into trouble, ask for the courage to stop following your heart everywhere it goes. Give up the impulse to put your happiness first, and place your trust in God and His Word instead. Depend on God to give you a new heart, and to stir your heart to do His will.
Trinkets to Treasure
Our heart is deceitful. Sneaky as a snake. Crafty as a fox. Wiley as Wiley Coyote, and just as persistent in trying to get what it wants. To remind us of this, this week's trinket is a bar of soap. No matter how much we want for God to make us clean, our heart is as slippery as soap. If we keep this in mind, we can be on guard against the whims of emotion. When we are wise, we cannot be led astray by the wiles of the heart.
Chapter ThreeTemper, Temper
"Better to dwell in the wilderness, Than with a contentious and angry woman."
Clearing the Cobwebs
What causes you to lose your temper? The big things? Or the little things?
Our temper is most often compared to flames of fire. We say tempers flare. Anger smolders in our hearts. We harbor burning wrath, seething emotions. People who lose their tempers are called hotheads or are said to have a short fuse. Anger barely contained is said to be boiling near the top. And when we can't contain the anger any longer, we blow our top and sparks fly. In cartoons, we see the stages of building emotion. Shoulders hunch, fists clench, faces scrunch, teeth clench, color rises through the face, eyes become bloodshot, steam begins to escape through the ears, and then comes the explosion. There are lots of ways to give vent to anger. We grit our teeth, we give someone "the look," we pull our hair, we jump up and down, we say hateful things, we kick and scream, and we rant and rave. In any given household, there will be some combination of shouters, pouters, screamers, sulkers, snubbers, stompers, and sarcastics. Sounds like a soap opera or a sitcom, doesn't it?
By the time we hit kindergarten (give or take a year), most little people learn that temper tantrums are not acceptable. We urge them to exercise a little self-control. In order to stem the tide of fury, we are admonished to think before we speak, cool down, count to ten, and find healthy ways to express our frustration. But some of us never learn to control our tempers. It's one of the most unmanageable moods we face.
1. Anger unleashed almost always leads to feelings of regret. When we lose our temper, we often do and say things we wish we hadn't. We're far from alone in our struggles with our tempers. Many people in the Bible said words in the heat of the moment. Many of them behaved in ways they would later regret. Shall we take a look?
What did Moses do in a fit of anger in Exodus 32:19? What was one man's perverse response in Numbers 22:27, just because he became frustrated and embarrassed? What false accusation was made by an angry brother in 1 Samuel 17:28? What shocking insults were flung in a moment of fury in 1 Samuel 20:30? (Continues...)
Excerpted from Managing Your Moods by Mary Graham Copyright © 2004 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.. Excerpted by permission.
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