Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Abundant Living.L17 - The Fear of Joy/ Success


Matthew 5: (NIV)
       8      Blessed are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they will be filled.
Amplified says:  6Blessed and fortunate and happy and [g]spiritually prosperous (in that state in which the born-again child of God [h]enjoys His favor and salvation) are those who hunger and thirst for righteousness (uprightness and right standing with God), for they shall be [i]completely satisfied!(C)

Matthew 6:33 33 Seek the Kingdom of God[a] above all else, and live righteously, and he will give you everything you need.

PRINCIPLE 5 - STEPS 6 & 7   

Putting ‘off’ – Putting ‘on’

Learning to Fear Joy – the Fear of Joy – Fear of Success

Sometimes Christians are Afraid
Why would someone fear something good?  Why would anyone be afraid of something positive?
Def: the fear of joy is a vague uneasiness that one feels when things seem to be going too well.

The roots to this fear as with most fears are often false beliefs/ lies.
If you are dealing with the fear of joy, you may….

1.    believe that being successful is the only way you can feel good about yourself. If you had/ have success, and it is not making a difference, you give up or.. you sabotage so you never have to face the fact that what you believe is really true.
2.    believe you do not deserve success/ joy..  Why?  discuss
3.    believe that ‘if it’s too good to be true, then it’s not true’. ‘If things go well, it’s just a prelude to a catastrophe, so don’t get your hopes up’. Both beliefs are rooted in past experiences that need to be considered/ looked at.  – life examples – binge drinkers

We conclude from our beliefs and experiences on a subconscious level that:
-         it would be better to stay on guard at all times… at least that way, when bad experiences come, we are ready
-         you must get comfortable with being the struggler rather than a victor.  Once this sets in, we become used to struggling and it feels ‘normal’.. not struggling/ experiencing success feels very uncomfortable.
How do families foster the fear of joy?
Here are a few…
1.    when families are unpredictable/ full of broken promises  “the longer the time without pain, the greater the intensity of the pain when it comes”… “sometimes you just get tired of waiting for it to happen and you actually wish it would so it would be over”
2.    when families are not sure the future will come to pass  - living from crisis to crisis does not allow for a planned future. There is a sense that everyone is just barely holding it together – in survival mode
3.    where there is a lot of waiting – learn to accept waiting as a constant state of life. We become more comfortable with waiting to succeed, waiting to be happy, than actually experiencing it. We become an experienced ‘waiter’ rather than an experienced ‘experiencer of joy’

Ps 112:7  They do not fear bad news;  they confidently trust the Lord to care for them.
Romans 8:15 15 So you have not received a spirit that makes you fearful slaves. Instead, you received God’s Spirit when he adopted you as his own children.[a] Now we call him, “Abba, Father.”[b]

TRUTH:  Before God can change me, I need to connect with reality, even if that reality is painful.

TRUTH:  Changing us is God’s business.

TRUTH:  This is hard and painful!

TRUTH:  In this place there aren’t any heroes, just fellow pilgrims, all of us on a journey deeper into the heart of God.







Abundant Living.L16 - Ready w/ Robbie Sedgeman


Over the past few months, you have done a lot of work.  You admitted the mistakes and sins in your life.  You made an inventory of these difficult areas and turned from them.  You confessed your sins to God and someone you trust.  Now you are ready – ready for God to come into your life more powerfully than ever before and start making some significant changes.  You are ready for God to remove your character defects.  This is the next principle we will explore:  Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in your life and humbly ask God to remove your character defects.

In the coming weeks we will explore how to allow God to make these changes.  But today, we’ll explore our hearts to see if we ready for this next step.  Start by asking yourself, ‘Am I entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character? Make note of your initial response and take some time to explore why you reacted that way.  The following discussion may help you pinpoint why your response was negative (or positive).

Control Freak
Do you have a hard time giving up control?  Here are three different kinds of controllers:

Overt - Some people clearly seek control and overtly show it by being bossy or overly aggressive. 
Covert - Others don’t appear to seek control, but a closer look at their actions reveal otherwise.  They may be passive aggressive or manipulative – appearing compliant until you realize that you just did everything they wanted to do and nothing you wanted to do!
Concealed – Others have habits or characteristics that may simply seem annoying, but are actually attempts to control you, whether they realize it or not.  An example is someone who is chronically late, especially if they know everyone will wait for them.

We all struggle with control to some extent.  It started in the garden when Adam and Eve decided to disobey God and do life their own way.  Free will is at the heart of our relationship with God.  The free will God grants us allowed Adam and Eve to make their choice.  And he allows you to do the same.  Since God won’t force His way upon you and because it is in our fleshly nature to go our own way, the psalmist provides a wise prayer for each of us to present before God:  Help me to do your will, for you are my God.  Lead me in good paths, for your Spirit is good.  (Psalm 143:10)

Perceived Benefits
If you are still wrapped up in your will, you cannot expect any change.  My mother was a worrier – about everything.  It was inconvenient and often trying on those around her.  She once said, ‘I am a worrier.  I always have been and I don’t think that will change at my age.’  And it didn’t.  She was a worrier right up until her death.  Some of us are like her – we deny our behavior stems from a character defect.  We don’t want to change.  Most of the time, we are receiving some perceived benefit.  I don’t know this for sure, but I think it was less painful for my mother to worry about some inconsequential event than to face some of the deeper issues in her life.  Similar to busyness, worrying can be a distraction from the more important things happening in and around us.  Focusing on the lesser pain in our lives dulls the impact of the greater pain.  The problem with this strategy is that more pain is created in the long run because the root cause of the pain is never addressed and it lingers, sometimes until death.

Sometimes we admit our character defect but don’t allow God to change it.  Once again, a perceived benefit is involved.  Perhaps you are hanging onto the fear of the unknown.  You can’t imagine your life situation without your current behavior, so you hesitate to change, fearing the result. 

I was a co-dependent in regards to my brother who was an alcoholic.  I struggled with letting go, in part, because I did not know what would happen to him if I didn’t take care of his affairs.  But I took the step and let go as I believed God directed me.  God calls us to obedience.  1 Peter 1:13 says, Be obedient to God, and do not allow your lives to be shaped by those desires you had when you were still ignorant.  That verse tells us that we can clearly see our character defects but choose to continue to be led by them.

It turns out that my brother did not end up on the streets as I feared.  The bottom line is that we don’t know what will happen in the future.  But God does and he walks with us each step of the way.  He calls us to abundant life, not disaster.  Proverbs 24:14 says, ‘Know also that wisdom is like honey for you:  if you find it, there is a future hope for you, and your hope will not be cut off.’  Allowing God to change your character defects is wisdom – and it leads to life.

An unknown author has given us this wonderful word picture of being willing:  “Willingness is the key that goes into the lock and opens the door that allows God to begin to remove your character defects.”  But willingness is preceded by one thing – humility.  Are you in control of your life or is God?  Are you God or is Jesus God?

James 4:10 says, Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up.”  It is possible to attain a new character – one approved by God, honored by men and enjoyed in all its fullness. That new character begins today if you are willing.  It is one of the best decisions you can make – because Godly character allows you to be who God intends.  And that is abundant life.

You may recall the story of Matthew 12:43-45, “When an impure spirit comes out of a person, it goes through arid places seeking rest and does not find it.  Then it says, ‘I will return to the house I left.’ When it arrives, it finds the house unoccupied, swept clean and put in order.  Then it goes and takes with it seven other spirits more wicked than itself, and they go in and live there. And the final condition of that person is worse than the first. That is how it will be with this wicked generation.”

We do not have to be a part of that ‘wicked generation,’ but we may be if we do not follow the principle God provides.  This story is not meant to scare you into good deeds, but to inform you of the reality of life:  if you do not replace a bad habit with a good habit, the bad habit will return.

Bring to mind a habit or behavior you would like to change.  Imagine it gone, but with no replacement.  What would be the result?  For example, if you would like to stop smoking, imagine yourself right after dinner, when you always have a cigarette.  What will do you after dinner during the time when you typically smoked?  Most likely you will be engaged in an intense internal battle regarding whether or not to go to the store to buy cigarettes.

Now plan a replacement.  Perhaps you will go for a walk.  Now imagine yourself getting up from dinner and heading right out the door to take a stroll down the street.  You may still struggle with cravings, but you will be actively combating them by doing something different and preoccupying yourself with the walk you are taking.

Your transition from character defects to character strengths will be greatly enhanced by pre-planning.  We have been engaged in our negative behaviors for a long time, some of them for decades.  They won’t change in the twinkle of an eye.  It will take patient, concerted effort on your part.  You won’t be comfortable with the new behavior at first, but give yourself some time, and the new behavior will become as natural as the character defect now feels.

God Values You
Last, but certainly not least, remember that God loves and values you.  That’s why you are here.  That’s why you are working these principles.  He has directed you to them.  So don’t let self-doubt and low self-esteem pronounce you unworthy of change.  Reject those lies!  If they persist, talk to Jesus about them.  Trust them to your inner circle of supporters.  Read the scriptures and listen for God’s voice.  He wants nothing more than for you to be closer to him.  And allowing him to remove your character defects will remove barriers that are preventing a greater intimacy with him.

Remind yourself that not only are you worthy in God’s sight of this change, but that you can do it – for you are His precious child.  “The person who has been born into God’s family does not make a practice of sinning, because now God’s life is in him; so he can’t keep on sinning, for this new life has been born into him and controls him – he has been born again.  1 John 3:9  If that is hard for you to believe, as it is for me at times, don’t disregard it.  Commit along with me to read and re-read that verse and to meditate upon it until it becomes a part of your heart.  We’ll both be glad we did.

Group Work

  1. What were your initial thoughts when I asked:  ‘Are you entirely ready to have God remove all of your character defects?’
  2. What areas have you given to God’s control and what areas are you still hanging onto?
  3. Is there a perceived benefit you receive from your character defect?  If yes, state the benefit and then state a greater benefit you could receive from God if you allowed him to remove that defect.
  4. What positive things can you put into practice to replace the character defects?
  5. Do you believe God can change you and that you are worthy of this change?

Abundant Living.L15 - Admit

Principle 4

Matthew 5: (NIV)
       8      Blessed are
kthe pure in heart: for lthey shall see God. [1]

Step 5
James 5:16

Why admit our wrongs?  Why confess? 
What will we lose?  And… what will we gain?

We lose….
1.   our sense of isolation
2.   begin to lose our unwillingness to forgive
3.   our inflated, false pride
4.   our sense of denial

We gain…
1.   healing that the Bible promises – James 5:16 – write out
2.   freedom – psalm 107:13-14 – write out    and  Ps 32:3-4 (GNB)
3.   support & accountability

While practicing this principle… always remember:
Ro 3:23-24 and 1John 1:9

Choosing someone to share with:
Robbie covered some of this in a prior lesson…  but here are a few guidelines as reminders and a few added thoughts:

1.   best to choose someone familiar with the recovery/ healing process – hopefully someone who is going through or has gone through as well
2.   ask the person specifically if they have ever done a personal inventory and shared it with someone – be bold enough to ask them to share a personal experience
3.   same sex
4.   someone you trust and respect

Steps to take:

·        Set up an appointment with the person – a time without interruptions!
When you meet:
·        Start with prayer
·        Read James 5:16 out loud
·        Talk/ share your inventory – strengths and weaknesses.  Keep your sharing balanced!
·        Close in prayer – perhaps each of you praying. Thank God for the tools given and used so that you might experience healing and forgiveness found in Christ!
·        Mark the moment



1.    Are you ready to take this bold step for healing?  Why or why not?
2.    What other qualities might you look for in a person to share your inventory with?
3.    Share your experience in confession/ admitting your wrongs and hurts to some you trusted.
4.    Do you want to be held accountable in some way to take this step?  Share if you do. – How?

k Ps. 24. 4.
l Heb. 12. 14. 1 John 3. 2, 3.
[1] The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Of the Authorized English Version. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2006, cxix

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Abundant Living.L12 - Inventory (B) with Robbie Sedgeman

Inventory (B)

Over the past few weeks we have been looking at the wide variety of aspects to consider when completing your inventory.  Last week, Lillian discussed heart issues and the week before that I discussed relationships, priorities, attitudes and integrity.  Today I will finish up the categories.  But keep in mind that these lists are not exhaustive.  Continue to ask God to direct you to where he wants you to focus.  He might have a category reserved especially for you! 

Before diving into the final categories, here is a reminder of the principle we are working and the five common components of inventory.

Principle:  “Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God and to someone I trust.”  

Supporting Verses: 
  • Matthew 5:8 says, “Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”
  • Lamentations 3:40 says, “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.” 

 Inventory Components: 
These components are a great guide, but should be adjusted to fit the situations you are examining.
1.  The Person – List the person involved in the situation.
2.  The Cause – What specific action did you or that person take?
3.  The Effect –  What effect did that action have on your and/or the other person’s life (i.e., emotionally, physically, mentally, spiritually, or in my life circumstances)?
4.  The Damage –  What damage did that action cause to my and/or the other person’s well-being and the fulfillment of my/their basic needs?
5.  My Part –  This is not meant to imply you caused the person’s actions.  It may well be that you had no part in the cause.  In that case, write, ‘Not Guilty!’  But, you may, for example, be harboring unforgiveness toward that person.  You are responsible for that.

Now let’s consider the final categories.  As you read, open your heart to determine if one or more of these areas is impacting you. 

Nothing gets us into as much trouble as our thoughts!  Our thinking, drawn from the desires and inclinations of our hearts, prompts our actions and our habits.  Many Christian books have been written about the mind.  One of the most popular is Joyce Meyer’s Battlefield of the Mind.  I recommend it to anyone struggling in this area.  Spiritual attacks hit hardest and the most consistently in our mind.  We are advised, commanded is probably more accurate, in 1 Peter 5:8:  ‘Be alert and of sober mind.  Your enemy the Devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour.’  Here are some questions to ask yourself:
  • How have I guarded my mind in the past?  Denial?  Or have I faced situations head-on?
  • Have I filled my mind with unhealthy and ungodly things?  Consider t.v., books, internet sites, etc.
  •  How have I failed to concentrate on the positive truths of the Bible? 

Examining the history of our thoughts means considering both what we allow into our minds and what we choose to dwell on.  It also involves looking at the good we may have kept out.  But remember to lists thoughts which have been positive and healthy, too!  All of our minds are in a state of renewal, so both good and bad, healthy and unhealthy thoughts dwell in our minds.  Over time, God-directed thoughts will replace self and sin-directed thoughts.  But it does require some effort, as stated in Romans 12:2, ‘Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.  Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is – his good, pleasing and perfect will.’ 

Of all the things we have, it is a natural tendency to believe our bodies, more than anything else, are our possession.  But the Bible says differently in 1 Corinthians 6:19-20:  “Haven’t you learned yet that your body is the home of the Holy Spirit God gave you, and that he lives within you?  Your own body does not belong to you.  For God has bought you with a great price.  So use every part of your body to give glory back to God, because he owns it.”  Our bodies are such a part of our identity that it is hard to imagine they are not completely ‘ours.’  But they are not. 

God gives many instructions and guidelines for the care and use of our bodies.  When doing your inventory, you may find it helpful to think in terms of these two categories:
Care of our bodies
  • Eating patterns
  • Activity
  • Sleep/rest

Use of our bodies
  • Dull emotional pain
  • Sex
  • Work
  • Senses
  • Pleasure/leisure

This is a topic that will comprise a large portion of your inventory!  Whether it is the family into which we were born or the one we married into, our families most directly impact our lives.  These relationships, especially your family of origin, played a major part in shaping who you are today.  A dedicated pursuit of examining your family will reveal many aspects of your thoughts, feelings and actions that you may not have realized originated from those relationships.  I encourage you to look at each immediate family member, even those you don’t think impacted your life.  You will be surprised how even the most seemingly distant relationship made an imprint on your heart and mind.  Here are some aspects to consider:
  • Person by person
  • Who mistreated you?
  • Who did you mistreat?
  • Who do you resent?
  • What is the family secret?

We have been spiritually influenced whether we grew up in church or not.  Just as going to church impressed upon us the importance of God, not going to church impressed upon us the unimportance of God in our lives.  But the truth is that God is the most important aspect of our lives and we have been greatly influenced by what we learned about him growing up.  In addition, our ongoing spiritual experiences continue to impact our lives today.   Closely examining our spiritual life and making changes as God directs can have the greatest impact on our future.  Here are some aspects of your spiritual life to consider:
  • What did you learn about God as a child?
  • What are your current church experiences?
  • How does your immediate family view spiritual matters?
  • How are you doing in the spiritual disciplines

A few weeks ago, I presented a list of different categories, or aspects, of inventory.  There is no such thing as a comprehensive list because our lives are complex and each of us is unique.  But there are common aspects to each of our lives and you can look up that talk if you need more inventory ideas.  But keep in mind that the most important part of inventory is to examine what God is directing you examine today.  This will be an ongoing process throughout your journey.  It may not be as intensive as it is now, but even in the most mature Christian, God will bring to light an event from their past that is to be brought into the light.  God’s timing is perfect and he knows what we can handle and what we most need to resolve. 

God will bring healing and resolution to each situation.  Our part is to be willing to bring each situation to him.  That can be a difficult and even after we have completed our initial inventory, we need to be on guard against backing away from our part.  To help prevent that, the following is a reminder of some of the unhealthy ways we deal with our discontent:
  • Minimize/Maximize – We either become paralyzed because we see sin around every corner or we minimize what has occurred in our lives.  However, we will continue to sin as long as we live in these bodies, and conversely, harm will be inflicted upon us.  The question is how we will respond.
  • Ignore – Many believe that once we become Christ followers, the past is gone and should be forgotten and that we should look only forward.  But, as we have seen, our past experiences have shaped who we are today.  God does not wipe out our history when we turn to him.
  • Shame – God calls us to admit our guilt, but not to succumb to shame.  Shame says ‘I am bad…a failure…a mistake.’  Guilt says, ‘I did something bad…I failed…I made a mistake.’  God calls us to admit guilt so that we can repent and receive forgiveness and freedom.  God does not call us to shame…we may have failed, but we are not, and never have been, a failure.
  • Starve – This method calls on our will power to simply ‘stop it!’  The problem is that we would have stopped it already if we were capable of doing so on our own. 

God counsels us to turn to him for help in facing and expelling the unhealthy behavior.  It is God’s power, not ours, that brings lasting change in our lives.  And if you commit to completing your inventory and trusting God to give you the courage and perseverance, you will see lasting change infiltrating every area of your life.

 “Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the Lord.”  Lamentations 3:40 says,
Group Work

  1. Mind:
    1. What unhealthy thoughts do you most struggle with?
    2. How have you been feeding your mind healthy thoughts?
  2. Body:
    1. How have you harmed your body in the past? 
    2. How are you restoring God’s temple?
  3. Family:
    1. Do you have a family secret?
    2. Who mistreated you or who have you mistreated?
    3. Do you resent anyone in your family?
  4. Spiritual
    1. What did you learn about God growing up?
    2. What are your current spiritual experiences?
  5. Do you tend to deal with discontent in one of the unhealthy ways discussed:
    1. Minimize/Maximize
    2. Ignore
    3. Shame
    4. Starve

Abundant Living.L13 - Enemies of the Heart

MATTHEW 5:3–12 Beatitudes

6th Beatitude:
Matthew 5: (NIV)
       8      Blessed are
kthe pure in heart: for lthey shall see God. [1]

We seek to keep our hearts pure that we might see God in our lives today[2]

Principle    Openly examine and confess MY faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. 
James 5:16  “Therefore confess  your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” 

There are four primary enemies of the heart that we need to consider while doing our personal inventory—four life-blocking agents that become lodged in the heart, poisoning our relationships, our faith, and our character.  These corrosive forces gain strength from the darkness.  Secrecy is their greatest ally.  Left to their own, they grow in power and influence, like a lab experiment gone terribly wrong.1

But as you will discover, these creatures lose their power when exposed to light.  Like roaches that scatter at the flick of a switch, so these four enemies of the heart dissipate when exposed to the light of truth.2  (God is light & His Word is Truth.)

Here they are:
Guilt; Anger; Greed and Jealousy.  (You could even add control to this mix.)

Maybe you’re wondering why I left lust off the list.  It’s because lust is not a problem to be solved; it is an appetite to me managed—an appetite God created.  Now there’s a thought!  Lust is actually a good thing within the right relationship.  Truth be know, if it wasn’t for lust, you wouldn’t be here.3

Guilt, anger, greed, jealousy—each results in a debt-to-debtor dynamic that always causes an imbalance in any relationship.  If you owe someone money, or vice versa, you know this to be the case.  No matter what else is going on at the moment, the debt is always in the room with you.4

Guilt says, “I owe you”.  Guilt is the result of having done something we perceived as wrong.  Every wrong we do can be restated as an act of theft.  We’ve even adopted specific terminology for resolving our guilt.  We say, “I owe her an apology.”  Why do we “owe” people an apology?  Because our hearts tell us we took something, that we’re now debtors in some fashion.  Consequently, the only way to make things right is to pay up.  Even if our only available currency is words—“I’m sorry”—still we feel obligated to pay something.

Nothing less than paying that debt will relieve a guilty heart of its burden of guilt.  People try to work it off, serve it off, give it off and even pray it off.  But No amount of good deeds, community service, charitable giving, or Sundays in a pew can relieve the guilt.  It is a debt.  And it must be paid or canceled for a guilty heart to experience relief.5

Anger on the other hand, says, “You owe me”.  We get angry when we don’t get what we want.  What we want may include what we deserve.6  In other words, you didn’t get what you were convinced you deserved.  Interpreted:  Somebody owed you!7

Show me an angry person and I’ll show you a hurt person.  And I guarantee you that person is hurt because something has been taken.  Somebody owes them something.  (If nothing else, an apology.)8
Again, here is the point:  The root of anger is the perception that something has been taken.  Something is owed you.  And now a debt-to-debtor relationship has been established.9

Anger, like each of the four “viruses” we will discuss, refuses to remain isolated or appropriately focused.  If anger is lodged in my heart, then before long, I will come to believe that everybody owes me.  That’s why we characterize certain men and women as  “an angry person”.  …anger is a heart disease.  People with anger lodged in their hearts are sick, and sick people act sick.10

Anger gains its strength from secrecy.  Exposing it is painful and powerful at the same time.  And to be honest, if you discover that you are carrying a heart full of anger, that won’t come as a surprise to the people who love you most.  They have known it for a long time.  And chances are, they have been praying that one day you would wake up and see if for yourself.

If in fact it is you who is suffering from this common malady, I bet you have a story to tell.  You may have never shared it with anybody, but I bet you’ve got one.  A story that leaves no room for doubt as to the legitimacy of your anger.

These monsters of the heart cannot withstand the light of exposure.  For you to tell your story would be to drag it out into the light.  You know intuitively that bringing it out into the open would cause it to loose its potency, which means you would lose an excuse to stay angry.  Beside, the whole ordeal would be so uncomfortable that it’s easier just to keep it yourself.  Can you see that by forcing yourself to bring your story to light you may deal your anger a fatal blow?12

Here’s a question every angry man and woman needs to consider:  How long are you going to allow people you don’t even like—people who are no longer in your life, maybe even people who aren’t even alive anymore—to control your life?  How long?

Seriously, get out your calendar and pick a date.  Ridiculous?  Silly?  What’s ridiculous is to continue to allow the people who have hurt you the most to influence your current and future relationships.  That’s not just silly.  That’s…sick.13

There is an appropriate way to use your story.  Not as an excuse, but as a testimony to God’s ability to free you from the past.  When you allow Him access to that part of your heart that harbors your anger, something amazing will transpire.  Your story will not longer explain your behavior; it will stand in stark contracts to it.

That’s what happens when a person quits using his story to justify his anger and instead allows God to do heart surgery.14

Perhaps you see your anger as an asset, an ally.  You’ve learned to leverage it in certain situations in order to get your way—or, as you like to put it, to get things accomplished.  You believe that your anger makes you strong.  You think it makes you a better leader.  A more effective disciplinarian.  A more successful coach.  Granted, your anger probably gives you energy at times, and when harnessed and properly focused, it can be a powerful ally in certain situations.  But it doesn’t make you more effective or successful.  In fact, the people who are forced to interact with you see it as a weakness.  A sickness.

Like guilt, anger alienates us from other people.  More times than we care to admit, the shrapnel of our anger pierces those closest to us, loved ones who are innocent and clueless as to what caused us to detonate in their presence.  A heart filled with anger is a heart looking to be paid back.15
Quick review.  Guilt says “I owe you.”  Anger says, “You owe me.”  The third hideous beast on our list is greed.  Greed says, “I owe me.”

Bottom line, the greedy people believe they deserve every good thing that comes their way.  Not only that, but they believe they deserve every good thing that could possibly come their way.  Consequently, it is hard to get a greedy person to part with money or stuff.  Why?  Because its’ theirs.  And they are scared.  Greed disguises itself. 

The truth is, we’ve made it almost impossible to identify greed in our own lives.  Unlike anger or guilt, greed hides behind several virtues.  Greedy people are savers, and saving is a good thing.  Greedy people are often planners, and planning is a good thing.  Greedy people want to make sure their financial future is secure, and that’s a good thing as well.  Right?

Greed knows no socioeconomic boundaries.  I’ve met greedy poor people and greedy rich people.  Greed is not a financial issue; it is a heart issue.  Financial gain doesn’t make greedy people less greedy.  Financial gain or loss doesn’t change anything, because greed emanates from the heart.16

Consider this warning issued by Jesus himself:
“Watch out!  Be on your guard against all kinds of greed; a man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.”  (Luke 12:15)

Be on your guard!  Why?  Because of the four heart conditions we will discuss, greed is the most subtle of all.17

Fear is the driving force behind greed.  Fear fuels greed.  Greed is supported by an endless cast of what ifs.

People with greed lodged in their heart fear that God either can’t or won’t take care of them.  More to the point, they’re afraid that God won’t take care of them in the fashion or style in which they want to be cared for.  And the gap between what they suspect God might be willing to do and what they want becomes a major source of anxiety.  (My car as an example)

Greedy people can never have enough to satisfy their need to feel secure in light of every conceivable eventuality.  There’s always another “what if” that drives them to acquire more.  Their appetite cannot be satisfied.  Greedy people are rarely at peace with others and never at peace with themselves.  Greed eventually strains their relationships at every level, eroding long-term relationships over stuff that has a use-life of only a few years.19

Proverbs 27:20 says Death and Destruction are never satisfied, and neither are the eyes of man.
The fourth heart issue is no different.  Jealousy.  Jealousy says, “God owes me.”  When we think about jealousy or envy, we immediately think of the things others have that we lack—looks, skills, opportunities, health, height, inheritance, etc.  We assume that our problem is with the person who possesses what we lack.  But let’s face it, God could have fixed all of that for us.  The point is, there’s an inequity there that God could have remedied.  Let’s face it, most of us believe on some level that if God had taken as good care of us as he has some people we know, our lives would be richer.20

Who’s really to blame?  If you are a theist by any definition, your jealousy is really an issue between you and God.  What God did for one he could have done for you too.  But for some reason he didn’t.  Your problem isn’t with the person who has what you don’t; it’s with your Creator.  He owes you.

Yet our jealousy rarely surfaces in our interaction with God.  If we’re aware of it at all, we might confess it as sin.  But even then we think of our jealousy as an issue between friends, coworkers, or neighbors.  It doesn’t register as a grudge we are holding against God.  But that’s exactly what it is.21
 (example of person who confessed jealousy to me) – should have been handled between her and God

Of the four heart invaders under consideration here, perhaps jealousy betrays the true condition of our heart more than any other.  I can justify my efforts to conceal my past.  I can make a convincing case for my anger.  And my greed is easy to camouflage behind the virtues of stewardship and prudence.  But how do you justify those incriminating feelings of satisfaction when someone you know (and even love) suffers a setback or loss of some kind?  But before you know it, with no conscious effort on your part, there it is:  that despicable feeling of satisfaction.  And where did it come from?  Straight from the heart.22

We are going to look at four specific spiritual exercises that, if you will make them a habit, will effectively neutralize the enemies of your heart.  Like physical exercise, implementing this regimen is often a matter of sheer discipline.  An act of the will.  A feeling-defying act of will.  And like physical exercise, these internal “stretches” are always profitable, even when they are not enjoyable.

The longer you’ve been living with guilt, hanging on to anger, clinging to your stuff, or comparing yourself to others, the harder it will be to exercise these four virtues.  The longer you have neglected your heart, the harder it is to get in shape.  I’ve never met anyone who regretted a good habit.23

Confession exposes our secrets and frees the heart from the oppressive power of guilt.  But, I’m not talking about the kind of confession most of us are accustomed to—i.e., a simple admission of culpability in a particular incident.  That kind of confession eases our conscience temporarily but does nothing to expose the deeper secrets we carry.  And it is the secrets that keep our hearts in turmoil.24

Confession was all about guilt relief.  I knew even as I was confessing that I would be back the next day, confessing the same sins.  My routine had nothing to do with change.  I just wanted to feel better.

Chances are, you play your own version of the confession game.  Some confess to a priest, some confess directly to God, but none of us is really interested in changing anything.  But we sure feel better about ourselves.  The cloud lifts.  The slate is clean. And now that we’ve gotten God off our case, we think, perhaps he will be on our side.  But would you side up with someone who treated you that way25

So  how do we deal with these enemies of the heart?
- Admit you have them for starters… which is why this is part of your inventory…  then .. we will need to:
- Confess to God, yourself & someone you trust – not just for guilt relief but for accountability and repentance..
Repent – turning to a new way… a change of mind/ thinking… a change of heart!



1)   Share about what you discovered through ‘the four enemies of the heart’. 
2)   What are your thoughts about ‘I owe you’, ‘you owe me’, ‘I owe me’, ‘God owes me’?

3)     Why do you think it is important to confess the way it was presented tonight?
4)     When and with whom will you be doing your confession? Is there something you want to share tonight?

k Ps. 24. 4.
l Heb. 12. 14. 1 John 3. 2, 3.
[1] The Cambridge Paragraph Bible: Of the Authorized English Version. Bellingham, WA : Logos Research Systems, Inc., 2006, cxix
[2]Wiersbe, Warren W.: The Bible Exposition Commentary. Wheaton, Ill. : Victor Books, 1996, c1989, S. Mt 5:1