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Ruth sat across on the other side of my office desk, tears falling down her cheeks. She was a middle-aged woman who was struggling emotionally as she told me something of her life's story - especially the part that had to do with the physical and sexual abuse she had repeatedly suffered in her teenage years. The emotional pain was intense, etched upon her face and in her voice. The memories were still so vivid, as though the events she was now sharing with me had happened just yesterday instead of those many years ago. She was a broken and wounded person, emotionally.


Yet Ruth had been a faithful disciple of Jesus Christ for many years. How could it be that she was still damaged and disabled emotionally? I am delighted to say that, over the following months, I watched a miracle of healing take place in Ruth's life as she came to experience the reality of Jesus' touch in her emotional life and the wonderful truth about Jesus announced in Isaiah 61 (NKJV)


"The Spirit of the Lord GOD is upon Me, Because the LORD has anointed Me To preach good tidings to the poor; He has sent Me to heal the brokenheartedů."


The "brokenhearted" are those who may look strong and well on the outside but who are damaged and wounded on the inside. Those wounds cannot be healed with medicine or surgery. They need to be addressed at another level altogether. Jesus' mission is to make us whole and complete in every dimension of our lives because every part of our lives has been damaged by the impact of sin and needs to experience that healing or wholeness.


Becoming a follower of the Lord Jesus Christ involves both an event and a process. By 'event' I refer to that moment when, in the words of Acts 20/21, we "turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus". By using the word 'process' I mean the life-long journey of being changed and made whole by the power of the Holy Spirit. Unfortunately, in far too many cases (and Ruth was one of them), those who have experienced the event may never have heard about the process.


Yes, it's true that the Bible tells us that we are a new creation (2 Cor.5/17), but we have now entered upon a life-long process of being set free from the residue of brokenness which is part of the legacy of our former condition. A major area of this re-creation is the dimension of our emotions and it is that dimension which is the particular emphasis of this study series. This concept of salvation being a process can be illustrated from the story of the raising of Lazarus. Consider the following:


Jesus called in a loud voice, "Lazarus, come out!" The dead man came out, his hands and feet wrapped with strips of linen, and a cloth around his face.Jesus said to them, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." (John 11/43,44).


When Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead, He gave this directive to those who witnessed this miracle: "Take off the grave clothes and let him go." When we are born again and raised to new life in Christ (event), we also need to be freed from the trappings of the spiritual death (process) - these are the 'grave clothes' that are no longer needed because we have a new life.


Even though the Bible tells us that we are a new creation (2 Cor.5/17), we have now entered into this life-long process of being set free from all that is the residue of our former condition. A major area of this liberation and reconstruction is our emotional life. The invasion of sin into our world has impacted every part of our lives - spiritual, relational, emotional and physical. It is the emotional dimension that is the particular focus of these studies.


The Bible talks about the emotional impact of sin when it uses the term "infirmities". Read Isaiah 53/4-6 and Hebrews 4/14-16 and Romans 8/26. These "weaknesses" are not inherently sinful themselves but they weaken us and make us more prone or vulnerable to sin. Our damaged and wounded emotions are part of that condition that the Bible calls "infirmities". So, why undertake a teaching series on the emotional life of the believer?


1. Because we have ignored this part of our God-created being for way too long.


2. Because if sin has damaged this part of our life, it's important to explore and experience God's salvation power in this area. If salvation doesn't reach to this area, then what God has provided is incomplete and inadequate.


3. Because our emotional well-being (or otherwise) directly effects all our relationships - let alone our relationship with God.


4. Because damaged emotions become Satan's playground where he can unleash his mischief and malevolence in very destructive ways.


5. Because Jesus has come "to bind up the broken-hearted" (Isaiah 61/1).


Over the coming weeks we will endeavour to gain a Biblical perspective on such areas as anger, guilt, grief, depression, anxiety, perfectionism and self esteem. As we address these dimensions we will be praying that God will bring healing where we are damaged and dysfunctional in our emotional life.


You may well hear the Lord Jesus say to you or about you, "Take off the grave clothes and let him go". This mutual ministry where we acknowledge our infirmities will need to be done with sensitivity. But what a wonderful outcome if emotions are healed and people are "let go" or liberated from the prison of damaged emotions!

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