We ALL know the children’s song “Jesus loves me”! We probably can’t even count the number of times we have sung that song throughout our lifetime . . . 100 times? 200? 1000? More?
Jesus loves me this I know.
For the Bible tells me so.
Little ones to Him belong.
They are weak, but He is strong.
Yes . . . Jesus loves me.
Yes . . . Jesus loves me.
Yes . . . Jesus loves me.
The Bible tells me so.
I had an interesting conversation with one of my sisters recently. She has been struggling with severe anxiety and depression for several months now, but the Lord has been graciously healing her and is slowly bringing her out of the deepest valley she has ever experienced. She is a woman of the Word – knowing more scripture than I do or could hope to! She has always loved digging into the Word of God and getting to know what it really says and means. Part of her healing process (and just surviving some of this valley) was quoting scriptures every day . . . many times a day . . . that pertained to what she was dealing with. She came to a point where she truly understood the meaning of what Jesus said – “Man does not live on bread alone, but on every word that comes from the mouth of God” (Matt. 4:4).
But even though this has been a great source of strength in the past – she came to a point where she just wasn’t “feeling” the same relief, peace and comfort that she used to when meditating on and quoting scripture. She wasn’t “feeling” the love of God – that Jesus loved her. What happened to the “feelings” that had been associated with these and other scriptures in the past? Why wasn’t she “feeling” better. Why weren’t the scriptures “working” anymore?
We are “feeling” beings. God beautifully and creatively designed us to be like Him – full of feelings – through our emotions, thoughts, senses and more. These feelings are a blessing and a gift! They allow us to be passionate about things – people, hobbies, friends, spouses, animals, places, etc. They allow us to connect relationally with people – and with God – to be empathetic, to laugh together, cry together, get mad at injustice. However, we can also struggle with this blessing – this part of our created makeup. It can put us into the deepest of depression, the most bitter taste of anger and resentment, the painful place of being unjustly wounded.
So what do we do? . . . . Just stop feeling? Try to control it? How do we keep our feelings in check . . . balanced? Why wasn’t my sister able to “feel” better when quoting the scriptures? Doesn’t the Word of God have power?
Here’s what I am learning (and yes – I am still on this journey too!). This is why I love that children’s song we all know by heart.
We were created with body, soul and spirit. These are not separate parts – but are intertwined, overlapping with each other.
Our body encompasses all our physical characteristics – how we look, walk, our hormones, senses, etc. This part is easy for us to see and understand – right? (well – maybe not all of it is easy to understand! . . . PMS anyone?!)
Our soul is our mind, will and emotions – the thoughts we think, the internal feelings we feel, the decisions we make. If we are living by our soul – we are living by our emotions (as they go up, down and all around!)
Most of the world lives by/out of their soul. Our society is definitely soul-based. Commercials, advertisements, restaurants, politicians and more – all try to reach us on our soul level (“Buy this – it will make you happy. You need this to make you feel good. Go here . . . do this . . vote for me because . . . You can have it your way – right away – now!” etc). Our society is set up to meet our need to “feel” good . . . to help us get addicted to things that will only temporarily help us feel good. They are VERY good at knowing how to do this and wooing us into their traps. So is Satan!
Am I saying that we can’t ever do anything that makes us feel good? NO! By no means. Let me continue . . .
The 3rd part of our makeup is our spirit. This is one of the most neglected and misunderstood aspects of our lives. This is why so many of us struggle, day in and day out, with living a peaceful, joyful, balanced life. We have been trying so hard to live just out of our body and soul, and occasionally out of our spirit. We take great care to feed our body and soul (Yes – you are feeding your soul more than you realize!) – but do we do the same with our spirit?
Our spirit is the part of us that, as a Christian, has been redeemed! When you accepted Christ into your life – accepted that free gift of salvation – your spirit was saved and redeemed! It was made pure and righteous before the Father because of what Jesus did for you! Praise the Lord for that!
Many people tell of miraculous transformations right then and there – they were set free from smoking, drugs, addictions, emotions – all sorts of soul-issues. But for many of us – that didn’t happen. For many (if not most) people in the church, we have still continued to struggle with our feelings, emotions, addictions, sins, etc. Why? Because our soul was not redeemed – it was our spirit. Our soul still likes many of those things. Our soul still leans towards temptations. Our soul still has issues with emotions, thoughts, feelings, past wounds and experiences. Our soul is also never satisfied. It can be demanding, pushy, bossy, easily hurt or offended and more. It is the voice we hear in our head – loud and clear when we are faced with decisions on a daily basis. It is very self-centered! Many of us are still trying to live out of our soul. So where is our redeemed spirit in all this?
Our spirit is very different from our soul. It is gentle, tender, quiet. It doesn’t demand things of us. It is not self-centered or self-demanding like our soul. It doesn’t get hurt as easily. It is God-focused and is all about pleasing God! It is our spirit that connects with the Holy Spirit – that helps us to live with the fruit of the spirit – love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. It is living by our spirit that can help us have the kind of life we desire – a satisfying life – filled with decisions, actions and feelings that please God – and living in the love of God (our wonderful heavenly Daddy).
Romans 8:5&6 says - “Those who live according to the sinful nature have their minds set on what that nature desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind of sinful man is death, but the mind controlled by the Spirit is life and peace“
So how do we live by the Spirit (and from our spirit)? It’s a decision . . . it’s an awareness. We have to have our “minds set on what the Spirit desires” and let our mind be “controlled by the Spirit” to truly have life and peace. It is a decision. It’s not a feeling.
Too many people are trying to live their lives based on their feelings. We need to change the way we think and start living our lives based on a decision to live by our spirit – to connect with the Holy Spirit (who was sent here to HELP US!). How do we do this?
It’s a decision. Will you CHOOSE to have an awareness of God standing right beside you all day long? Will you CHOOSE to live your life to please God and make HIM happy – or to please yourself (your spouse, your boss, your friends) happy? Will you CHOOSE to filter all your decisions in life based on that premise – that decision?
It won’t be easy in the beginning – especially if you are used to living by your feelings of the day, of the moment. But it can be done. And just like any other habit we have – with time and consistency – it does get easier! It’s also alot easier if you are feeding your spirit – “soaking” it (like a sponge) daily (possibly several times a day or throughout the whole day) with the Word of God, worship, and more!
So what does this have to do with “Jesus loves me” you are still asking?
Jesus loves me this I KNOW (not FEEL)
For the BIBLE TELLS me SO (not because I FEEL it).
Little ones to Him belong. (That’s US!)
They (we) are WEAK, but HE is STRONG! (Praise the Lord!)
Yes . . . Jesus loves me! (Not because I feel it . . .)
Yes . . . Jesus loves me!
Yes . . . Jesus loves me!
The BIBLE TELLS me SO! (. . . but because it’s TRUE and I CHOOSE to believe it!)
So – my challenge to you today is . . .
Live by the Spirit! Allow your spirit – your gentle, quiet, tender spirit to connect with the Holy Spirit today – and then LISTEN to it! Tell your soul to fall in line with your spirit! Let’s be a people who are spirit-led instead of soul-led. Let’s grasp hold of the truth that Jesus really did die for us to have an ABUNDANT LIFE – full of peace! Let’s make a DECISION to honor what Jesus did by CHOOSING to do and believe what He said in God’s Word! Let’s choose to feed our spirit each and every day . . . all throughout the day!
And it’s not based on feelings . . . but on choosing to believe and walk it out.
You can do it! It’s an awesome adventure and journey to begin and live! Let me know how it’s going for you, and let’s keep encouraging each other to live by the Spirit instead of our souls!
And don’t forget to have FUN doing it! (Trust me – there are AWESOME “feelings” and emotions to experience while living in/by the Spirit!)
As for my sister and why the scriptures didn’t seem to be “working” at that time . . . she realized that God was starting to teach her this wonderful principle . . . to base her decisions on the TRUTH of the Word of God . . . not on her “feelings” associated with the Word of God! God is so good!
Choose to go deeper today!
Change the way you’ve been “swimming”!