Thoughts on Sanctification
|"This is my journey through recovery, showing how my Creator is using the the 12-Step Christian recovery model to give me relief from the behaviors that bring me pain." --Sid|
"Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting." (Psalm 139:23-24 )
Even though the results are often painful, I need to search my own heart regularly, asking my Creator to show me where I am failing. Without His assistance, It would be easy for me to say, "I'm OK. It's everyone else that's the problem." But, I have to keep reminding myself that it's not my job to take other people's inventory. I need God to search my heart -- to take MY inventory. I need to listen to His evaluation of my life and I need to honestly own my weaknesses and my mistakes.
Yeah, it can be hard, but the alternative is a lot harder. It may seem easier to just stuff my garbage -- pretend it doesn't exist. But, when I do, sooner or later it comes out in destructive ways that damages myself and others. I don't want to do that any more. I want to take responsibility for my mistakes, deal with them, and move on to a better life.
"Humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and at the right time he will lift you up in honor. Give all your worries and cares to God, for he cares about you." (1 Peter 5:6-7 )
"Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves." (Step 4)
"Then said Jesus unto his disciples, If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me." (Matthew 16:24 )
Many of us have had exceedingly great difficulty entering into the absolute surrender needed to fully follow Jesus. For many, this has to do with a misunderstanding of God that has led us to mistrust Him.
Absolute surrender makes us extremely vulnerable to the one to which we surrender. And, allowing ourselves to be vulnerable in the past, to people and to other gods, has brought devastating consequences. Because of this, we may be very hesitant to surrender to the God of the Bible. We may ask ourselves, is it really safe to do that? Or, will He let me down and abuse me like the others have?
For myself, like many others, it has been helpful to make a disconnect between God and those people who have wrongly represented God’s character by their abusiveness. I have come to understand that my God is so full of love that, even if I were the only sinner in the world, He would still have come down to this sinful world, lived as a man, and died for my sins. I know that I can trust my God. I am totally convinced that He will never lead me in any way that I would not choose to be lead myself, if I could see the future, as He sees it.
You may be thinking that you are not strong enough to enter into absolute surrender. But God has promised us that no matter how weak we are (2 Cor 12:9 ), and no matter how strong the temptation is, that He will provide a way of escape (1Cor 10:13 ), as we cooperate with Him, choosing to do His will in that moment of decision.
After I realized my own powerlessness over my addictions and came to believe that God, a power greater than myself, could restore my sanity, I began to learn about--and to practice--the principles of surrender. Each time a temptation would come, I would totally surrender myself to God, realizing my helplessness and His all-powerfulness, praying--like Paul when he was stuck down with the glory of Jesus—‘Lord, what would you have me to do?’ I can testify to you today that, every time I have cooperated with Divine agencies in this way, God has turned my powerlessness into victory! Without fail, He has delivered—-and continues to deliver—-me from temptation. This is how (I believe) God is creating within me a new heart (Ezekiel 36:26 ). Each time I surrender in this way, my faith is strengthened, my heart towards God is softened and more and more those things that I once loved, I am learning to hate. And, the principles of God’s kingdom are becoming more and more desirable. I praise God for recovery!
"Now unto him that is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, To the only wise God our Saviour, be glory and majesty, dominion and power, both now and ever. Amen." (Jude 1:24,25 )
"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (Step 3)
You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1 ). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2 ). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3 ). I even number the very hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-31 ), for you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27 ).
In me you live and move and have your being, for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28 ). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5 ). I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12 ). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26 ). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14 ). I knit you together in your mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13 ) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6 ).
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me (John 8:41-44 ), but I am not distant and angry. I am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16 ) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your father (1 John 3:1 ).
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11 ) for I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48 ). Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17 ), for I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33 ).
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11 ), because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3 ). My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18 ) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17 ).
I will never stop doing good things for you (Jeremiah 32:40 ), for you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5 ). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41 ) and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3 ).
If you seek for me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29 ). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4 ), for it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13 ).
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20 ) for I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17 ). I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 ). When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18 ). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11 ).
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4 ).
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son Jesus (John 17:23 ), for in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26 ). He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3 ). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31 ) and to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ).
Jesus died so that you and I could be reconciled (2 Corinthians 5:18-19 ). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10 ). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32 ). If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23 ) and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39 ).
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7 ). I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15 ). My question is this: “Will you be my child?” (John 1:12-13 ). I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32 ).
Love, Dad - the Everlasting Father - the Prince of Peace - the Almighty God.
"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)
"Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out." (Step 11)
I'm a pretty healthy guy. I workout at the gym, play racquetball, and often do tasks around the our one-acre home that require a good deal of muscle power. But, a few years ago, due to over-confidence in my power, I pulled a muscle in my lower-back. All of a sudden, I realized just how fragile my "power" is. Even the simplest of tasks became difficult. Working out at the gym became impossible. Walking was slow and arduous. Even the simple task of tying my shoes was barely possible. I had to admit my powerlessness and ask my family and my chiropractor for help. This sudden change from power to powerlessness resulted from overconfidence in my ability. I'm thankful that my body healed, but it took at least a month.
Have you ever been over confident in your power to do the right thing, or to not do the wrong thing then, all of a sudden, find yourself failing and falling? I have. Have you ever been over confident in your ability to control people or things and then all of a sudden find those people rebel against your control and/or find things falling apart. I have. I think it's human nature (especially for men) to want to be in control of people around us, of things, and of our behaviors. But, in our over confidence, we often find our "kingdom" slipping out of our control.
Jesus said, "... without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15:5 ).
The irony is that as long as we hold on to that allusion of power our lives tend to become more and more out of control. And, at some point, we sink so low that we begin to admit just how fragile and powerless we really are. We begin to realize that our lives have become unmanageable. Just as my pulled muscle disabled my whole body, the realization of my true condition of powerlessness can disable my whole emotional being.
"Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed. The earnest prayer of a righteous person has great power and produces wonderful results" (James 5:16 ). "if we confess our sins to [God], he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all wickedness" (1 John 1:9 ). "I can do all things through Christ, who strengthens me" (Philippians 4:13 ).
For some, who haven't found this hope, the realization of powerlessness can lead to physical self-destruction. But there IS hope. When we learn to be honest about our problems and we admit our powerlessness over them, we are then able to reach out to God and trusted friends for help. That's how our healing begins. It takes time. Be patient with yourself. I've been in recovery since 1994 and I wouldn't trade my recovery experience for anything. "It works if you work it, and YOU ARE WORTH IT!"
"We admitted we were powerless over our problems, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Step 1)
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