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 we meditate upon the perfections of the Saviour,
we shall desire to be wholly transformed
and renewed in the image of His purity.
There will be a hungering and thirsting of soul
to become like Him whom we adore.
(Steps to Christ, 89)
The times of prayer and meditation in my own experience have been (and continue to be) a blessing to me throughout my recovery process. It's a time when I process my thoughts and feelings with God and seek to understand what His will is for me in my life today. It's a time for me to study and seek to understand the writings of inspired writers. It's a time for me to ask God if there are any sins that I have neglected to confess. And, it's a time for me to dwell on the incredible work that Jesus has done and is doing on my behalf.
I invite you to join me in a commitment to more deeply enter into the process of prayer and meditation.
"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)
A wise person once said that it is not the occasional deed, or misdeed, that determines our destiny. Rather, it is the general direction of our life.
When I make a mistake -- when I stumble and fall -- the temptation is to think that I've lost my salvation and that I may as well just continue down that evil path. But that really is just a temptation, from a "roaring lion" (1 Peter 5:8 ) that has no teeth! The truth is that "The LORD is merciful and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy... The Lord is like a father to his children, tender and compassionate to those who fear him... He knows how weak we are; He remembers we are only dust." (Psalm 103:8-14 ).
I need not buy into the enemy's lie, because "the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him" (Psalm 103:17 ). And I do fear and honor God. I do love Him and want to serve Him with all my heart. So, when I sometimes mess up, it's not because I want to turn away from Him. It's because I failed to surrender to Him in the moment of temptation. There really is a difference.
So, what do I do when I fail? I promptly admit my mistake, apologize where needed, and move on with life. But, some may ask, is it really that simple? My answer is, It's only that simple if don't want to call God a lier, when he said, "If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness." (1John 1:9 ) Rather than believing the father of lies, I choose to believe my loving Heavenly Father of mercy and love.
8 The Lord is compassionate and merciful,
slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love.
9 He will not constantly accuse us,
nor remain angry forever.
10 He does not punish us for all our sins;
he does not deal harshly with us, as we deserve.
11 For his unfailing love toward those who fear him
is as great as the height of the heavens above the earth.
12 He has removed our sins as far from us
as the east is from the west.
13 The Lord is like a father to his children,
tender and compassionate to those who fear him.
14 For he knows how weak we are;
he remembers we are only dust.
15 Our days on earth are like grass;
like wildflowers, we bloom and die.
16 The wind blows, and we are gone—
as though we had never been here.
17 But the love of the Lord remains forever
with those who fear him.
His salvation extends to the children’s children
18 of those who are faithful to his covenant,
of those who obey his commandments!
(Psalm 103:8-18 ) NLT
"Continued to take personal inventory, and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it." (Step 10)
"Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them. Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord. Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged." (Colossians 3:18-21 )
A wise writer once said that if a person can be a Christian at home, he/she can be a Christian anywhere, implying that there is no harder place to be a Christian than at home with our families. At home we tend to let down any façades we may carry with us when we are in public. In so doing, we are more likely to hurt those we love the most -- sad, but true.
Of course, God is always there for us, ready to deliver us from those temptations, before we hurt others. But sometimes we fail to surrender our will to God, and thus lose the victory we could have had. When that happens and we hurt a family member, the temptation is to just move on and pretend that it didn't happen. Or, we might justify our behavior, claiming that they deserved what they got. But this tends to weaken (and could eventually destroy) our family relationships.
On the other hand, when we admit our mistakes and make amends with those we have wounded, our family relationships are strengthened. Not only that, but when at least one family member starts practicing these principles, others are likely to follow suit, as they are convicted by the Holy Spirit. This can change the whole dynamics of the family -- for the better.
Making amends is always hard, but the resultant peace in our home is well worth the pain. And whenever we make a decided effort to do as we are led by the Holy Spirit, God adds His blessing and assistance to make it all possible. Without Him, we can do nothing good (John 15:5 ), but with Him, we can do all things! (Philippians 4:13 ). For us, this is "impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible." (Mark 10:27 ).
"Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others." (Step 9)
Early in my recovery process, God laid on my heart many situations for which I needed to make amends. Even though it was a very painful process to go through, I felt much better about myself for making the list and following through with the amends. Since that time I have continued to take personal inventory, and when I was wrong, promptly (well, usually I've been prompt :-) admitted it -- once I recognized my mistake.
But when it's me that has been wronged, am I able to see whether or not I have anything to make amends for in that situation? I think that sometimes I may be unable to see my own mistakes through the pain that I suffer as a result of other people's words and/or actions. This may be where forgiveness comes into play. I doubt whether I can truly make amends in the case where I have not forgiven that person for what they have done to wound me.
"Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye." (Colossians 3:13 )
I'm coming to believe that forgiving doesn't mean excusing or forgetting the wrong. And it doesn't mean a removal of consequences. But it does mean a change of attitude on my part. It means that I begin to wish the offender well. It means that I pray that my offender may find healing through recovery, so that they may find the peace and joy that I am finding in the Lord. It means that I want to see my offender as an erring child of God, such as I. It means... that I am becoming willing to make amends.
"For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:" (Matthew 6:14 )
"Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all." (Step 8)
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