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|
As long as we think we can deal with our behaviors that bring us pain, such as food issues, drugs, alcohol, porn, sick relationships, etc., we just stay on the roller coaster of denial. Like the "prodigal son", who "hit bottom" when he ended up at the hog farm, starving nearly to death (luke 15:11-32 ), many of us have let our issues get so out-of-control that we feel like there is just no way out. But, the irony of recovery is that when our resources run out, when we finally give up on doing things our own way, that's when God is able to step in and do for us what we are unable to do for ourselves.
Like the apostle Paul, it is good for me to admit that "I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. I want to do what is right, but I can’t" (Romans 7:18 ). But, when we honestly admit our weakness, Jesus says to us, "Humanly speaking, it is impossible. But not with God. Everything is possible with God" (Mark 10:27 ).
"We admitted we were powerless over our problems, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Step 1)
The year was 1994. Having sunk lower than a snake's belly in my behaviors, I heard something that gave me hope. I heard the testimonies of several individuals who were, by the power of God, having consistent and lasting victory over temptation to do those things that had controlled them for many years, and had brought them and others a great deal of pain. Could it be, I wondered, if there might be a way out of my painful behaviors, which had controlled me for 25 years?
As I began to realize my powerlessness, and the all-powerfulness of a LOVING God who wanted to deliver me from my addictions, I began to become willing to surrender my heart and my life to Him. Just as soon as I began to surrender myself to Him in the moment of temptation, He began to deliver me. I began to have victory over temptations that I had previously believed to be impossible. What Jesus said about Him being the vine is certainly true: "I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing." (John 15:5 ). And, it's also true that, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 ).
I PRAISE GOD for His faithfulness to deliver me from my besetting sins as I choose to trust and obey Him. This is why I write and facilitate a small group each week. I have a burning desire to share this spiritual awakening that I am having with others. If you are ever in the Walla Walla area, I would love to have you join me and others for a time of discovery and healing each and every Saturday morning. See the 12-Step Schedule for more information.
If you wish, you can read more of my testimony here, where I have written about the power of the will and throughout my recovery blog.
"Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs." (Step 12)
I have discovered that prayer, meditation, and a conscious contact with God need not end with my morning devotions. More and more in my work and relationships I realize the value of continuing to seek the will of God, as I make the many choices that each day requires. So today I'd like to share some practical ways in which I maintain contact with God and seek His will in my daily life.
In my work, I often find myself stuck trying to resolve a seemingly insurmountable problem. In times like this, I claim the promise, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking" (James 1:5 ). Then, like Saul in his hour of calamity, I pray, "... Lord, what would you have me to do? ..." (Acts 9:6 ). Then, as I think through that problem again, the solutions eventually begin to come. I don't always realize it at first, but later, it occurs to me that my prayers were answered. That's when I praise God and give Him thanks and honor.
In my relationships, things always go better when, rather than venting my frustrations (or stuffing them), I surrender them to God and ask for wisdom and strength to make better choices in dealing with difficult situations. A good example of this is that day when I received a "Rude Email"...
I invite you today, to claim the promises of God, as you surrender your heart to Him and see for yourself just how much better your day will go. May God richly bless you, is my prayer, in Jesus name, amen.
"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)
"If you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall" (1 Corinthians 10:12 ). "Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak" (Mark 14:38 ).
My Loving Heavenly Father is my constant companion, ever sending impressions of His will for me. I believe that He would never lead me in any way other than I would choose to be led -- if I could see the end from the beginning, as He does. When I surrender my carnal will to His all-knowing will, life is so much better. I still have difficult situations to deal with. But, I have the peace of God, knowing that He is right there with me, giving me guidance every step of the way. This is why it is my desire to continually seek His will, and choose to follow the impressions He gives me. I can always trust Him to provide a way for me to do what He asks. Even though I don't always do it, it is my deepest desire to live my life in humble submission to His will. This is why I continue to make an introspective inventory of my life, praying for wisdom and strength, and then making amends when I am convicted of my mistakes.
I believe that this process of recovery is synonymous with the process of sanctification, of which Ellen White makes this statement:
Why do we not dwell more upon this? Why do we not strive to make it easily understood, when it means so much? Why do not Christians open their eyes to see the work God requires them to do? Sanctification is the progressive work of a lifetime. The Lord declares, "This is the will of God, even your sanctification" (1 Thes 4:3 ). Is it your will that your desires and inclinations shall be brought into conformity to the divine will? (Selected Messages, Vol 3, 202.3)
"Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." (Step 10)
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