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06/17/16

Permalink 09:13:26 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 276 words   English (US)

Humble Submission to God

"Now, no discipline is pleasant, but God's discipline is for my own good, so that I may be a partaker of His holiness, thereby bearing the peaceful fruit of righteousness." (Hebrews 12:1-11 -- paraphrased by Sid).

"Since so many have gone before me, participating in the life-changing experience of recovery in the Lord, it behooves me to learn how to lay my issues at the foot of the cross, and look to Jesus for my deliverance.

When I think of Jesus, I see a man who endured much harder trials and temptations than I ever have. He endured all this hardship for the joy of knowing that as a result of His sacrifice, I would have the opportunity for an eternal life of peace and happiness with Him. When tempted to think that I have it bad, I remind myself that I have never resisted temptation to the degree of sweating great drops of blood, as did Jesus.

Neither should I despise the discipline of God, because He does it out of His infinitely pure love for me. As I am teachable in this discipline, God deals with me as His child. But if I refuse His discipline, I become more like a bastard than a child of God.

My earthly parents disciplined me according to their limited understanding, and out of their dysfunctional past, and maybe even for their own pleasure, yet I gave them respect and learned from them. How much more then should I respect and honor the infinitely wise Creator God who loves me so much that He gave His only Son to die for me that I may have life eternal?

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

02/19/16

Permalink 07:57:28 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 237 words   English (US)

Humbly Trust and Ask...

"Whosoever therefore shall humble himself as this little child, the same is greatest in the kingdom of heaven." (Mt 18:4 ).

As a young child, I was trusting and willing to be led, with little questioning. But as I became older and more experienced, I became less and less trusting of others -- at least partially because people showed themselves to be less than trustworthy.

However, in a spiritual sense, Jesus calls on me to reverse this process, becoming more and more trusting in Him, not only as my Savior and substitute, but also as my ever-present help in trouble (Ps 46:1 ), and my trusted Guide (Ps 32:7,8 ). I claim God's promise to give "grace to the humble (1 Peter 5:5 ). "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time: Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you." (1 Peter 5:6,7 ). Since I believe that that He cares for me, I know that I can trust Him, and so I humbly ask Him to work in my heart to change my character to be more and more like Jesus.

"And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him." (1 John 5:14,15 ).

So... just what is "according to His will"? Instead of conforming to my culture, He wants to transform me to be more and more like Him (Romans 12:2 ). He wants to deliver us from this evil world (Gal 1:4 ). He wants to sanctify me (1 Thes 4:3 ). He desires me to be full of thanksgiving (1 Thes 5:18 ). With well-doing, He wishes me to silence the ignorance of the foolish (1 Peter 2:15 ). It is better to suffer for well-doing than for evil doing (1 Peter 3:17 ). He wants to deliver me from human lusts that I may do His perfect will, trusting that He is my faithful Creator (1 Peter 4:2,19 ).

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

12/04/15

Permalink 08:18:00 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 529 words   English (US)

Beating The Air, or On To Victory?

When I watched the 2004 Disney movie "Miracle", I couldn't help but think of how the apostle Paul likened Christian growth to the running of a race.

"Know ye not that they which run in a race run all, but one receiveth the prize? So run, that ye may obtain. And every man that striveth for the mastery is temperate in all things. Now they do it to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible. I therefore so run, not as uncertainly; so fight I, not as one that beateth the air:" (1 Cor 9:24-26 )

The movie was about how the 1980 USA Olympic hockey team came from behind to win the gold at the winter Olympic games, after about 20 years of Soviet dominance. When the team was first formed there was discontent and fighting among the players, and the coach seemed like a cruel taskmaster. But, as time went on, the compassion, wisdom, and love of the coach became apparent. And as the team members became committed to following the instruction of the coach, they became as family, working as one for the common good of the of the team and the USA.

As we come out of denial (step 1), accept God as our "coach" (step 2-3), and start working as a team (step 3), we begin to realize that God is not the cruel taskmaster that we once thought. But rather, we discover that He is full of compassion, wisdom, and love. We begin to see that the way of the cross (denial of self), while painful, is the only way to grow and excel spiritually. It's the only way to actually "win" the "race".

Now, I can say I'm on the "team" (a Christian) and I can say all the right things to make people think I am, but am I really...? I may even try to "run the race" of life on my own, and in my own strength. But when I do, I make a lot of mistakes and hinder the overall progress of Christ's "team". As Paul put it, I run as one that beats the air. It's like Jesus said, "...without me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5 ).

But when I co-operate with God, when I listen to His "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12 ) saying "this is the way, walk ye in it" (Is 30:21 ), and turn my will over to Him (step 3) by choosing to obey, then He works in me to "will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13 ) Ellen White put it this way:

" To make God's grace our own, we must act our part. His grace is given to work in us to will and to do, but never as a substitute for our effort. As the Lord co-operated with Daniel and his fellows, so He will co-operate with all who strive to do His will. And by the impartation of His Spirit He will strengthen every true purpose, every noble resolution" {PK 486-487} "The heavenly intelligences will work with the human agent who seeks with determined faith that perfection of character which will reach out to perfection in action. To everyone engaged in this work Christ says, I am at your right hand to help you. As the will of man co-operates with the will of God, it becomes omnipotent. Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings." {COL 332-333}

So, when I am weak (all the time) I find my strength in the Lord, as I trust His "coaching" and obey His biddings.

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 ) "And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ's sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong." (2 Cor 12:9-10 )

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

09/11/15

Permalink 07:38:13 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 109 words   English (US)

"Be Clean"

When I humbly ask God to remove my shortcomings, it's gratifying to read God's response to my request in His Holy Word...

"Then will I sprinkle clean water upon you, and ye shall be clean: from all your filthiness, and from all your idols, will I cleanse you. A new heart also will I give you, and a new spirit will I put within you: and I will take away the stony heart out of your flesh, and I will give you an heart of flesh. And I will put my spirit within you, and cause you to walk in my statutes, and ye shall keep my judgments, and do them." (Ezekiel 36:25-27 ). "For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13 ).

But I must also remember that God will not do these things without my cooperation. I must remember that, in Philippians 2, verse 12 precedes verse 13: "Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12 ). I must remember that the first part of James 4:7 precedes the second part: "Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you." (James 4:7 ). So, I no longer question God's willingness and power to save me from those sins that so easily beset me. I only question my willingness to cooperate with Him so that I can become the man that He would have me to be.

"Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen." (Ephesians 3:20-21 )

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

06/12/15

Permalink 07:45:13 am, Step(s): 07 Purification, 442 words   English (US)

Create in me a clean heart

"Have mercy upon me, O God, according to thy lovingkindness: according unto the multitude of thy tender mercies blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from mine iniquity, and cleanse me from my sin... Create in me a clean heart, O God; and renew a right spirit within me." (Psalm 51:1-10 ).

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9 )

"Christ is the source of every right impulse.
He is the only one that can implant in the heart
enmity against sin. Every desire for truth and purity,
every conviction of our own sinfulness,
is an evidence that His Spirit is moving upon our hearts."
(Steps to Christ, 26)

When I'm entirely ready to have God remove my character defects, it's a natural next-step to ask Him to do it. However, the way He does that is sometimes unexpected and often painful. My tendency is to want God to sprinkle some "pixy dust" on me and POOF, I'm all better! But it hasn't happened to me yet :-) What has happened is according to Hebrews 12:5-11. God has given (and still gives) me consequences for my bad choices. Forgiveness (in my case) seldom removes all the consequences. And I have some doubt that my character would actually be changed much if all consequences were removed. In my estimation, some of the ingredients of character transformation are: consequences, accountability, right choices (strong hard battles with self), and complete reliance upon God for my strength.

... My child,[b] don’t make light of the Lord’s discipline, and don’t give up when he corrects you. For the Lord disciplines those he loves, and he punishes each one he accepts as his child. As you endure this divine discipline, remember that God is treating you as his own children. Who ever heard of a child who is never disciplined by its father? If God doesn’t discipline you as he does all of his children, it means that you are illegitimate and are not really his children at all. Since we respected our earthly fathers who disciplined us, shouldn’t we submit even more to the discipline of the Father of our spirits, and live forever? For our earthly fathers disciplined us for a few years, doing the best they knew how. But God’s discipline is always good for us, so that we might share in his holiness. No discipline is enjoyable while it is happening—it’s painful! But afterward there will be a peaceful harvest of right living for those who are trained in this way. (Hebrews 12:5-11 )

"Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings." (Step 7)

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