Archives for: December 2013


Permalink 09:22:59 am, Step(s): 03 "I will co-operate...", 799 words   English (US)


This is a continuation of my post: That's My God!

Not only does God freely forgive us (justification), but He also wants to sanctify us – to change us from the inside out, to become more and more like Jesus. It doesn’t happen all at once, like justification. This is a continual process that we engage in for the rest of our lives and it is the MOST rewarding process I’ve ever been involved in. And, as long as we are involved in this process, our destiny is assured. We can be certain that our home is in heaven.

But why, you may ask, do we need to go any further than to be forgiven? If God wipes our record clean by the blood of Jesus, why would we need to be sanctified? … Well, while it is true that God gives us a new, clean slate to start over again with, He doesn’t take away our freedom to choose whom we will serve. And, he doesn’t normally change our learning history, which makes up our character. In other words, it is unlikely that He will miraculously take away our bad behaviors. He deals with our past without our participation, but He can’t deal with our future without our cooperation. If He did that, He would violate our freedom of choice, and my God would never do that us.

Let me illustrate, with my own life story… During most of my 25 years of “acting out” in my addictions, I realized that I was powerless over my problems, and I knew that my life was out-of-control. That’s the first step to healing, and that was good. I also came to believe that God could restore me to sanity – the second step.

And, I had enough understanding of justification that I regularly confessed my sins. And, by faith, I believed that God forgave me, and washed me clean in the blood of Jesus. I was justified – over and over again. But those were the only positive steps I took. Oh, I fought the temptations. I fought them with all the will power I could muster up. But I was still a practicing addict. And honestly, my addiction got worse and worse. In fact, I am quite sure that, if I hadn’t got into recovery in 1994, I would likely be incarcerated today. That’s just how bad it was becoming. And that, my friends, is why I needed more than just justification. I needed recovery. I needed sanctification. BTW, in my vocabulary, the words “recovery” and “sanctification” are synonymous. That’s why you will never hear me say (this side of Heaven) that I am recovered, because this is the progressive work of a lifetime, it doesn’t happen all at once.

You see, not only do we need forgiveness, we need character development; we need transformation! That’s where the process of sanctification comes in. So, what exactly is sanctification, and what must we do to cooperate with God so that He can accomplish this in our lives?

For me, it began when I made a decision to turn my will and life over to the care of God, as I understood Him. This involves three major components:

  1. PRAYER: Constant (as near as possible) communion with God through prayer is vital to having victory over those sins that so easily beset me. For me, this needs to start as soon as I roll out of bed in the morning.
  2. BIBLE STUDY: My mind is more clear and most able to focus on Biblical topics first thing in the morning. I never used to be a morning person, but as soon as I asked God to wake me up in the morning, that all changed -- for the better!
  3. SURRENDER: When temptation comes, and my thoughts begin to turn towards sin, it is then and there that I must turn my heart and will to God and cry out to Him like Peter when he was sinking: "Lord, save me lest I perish!" (Matthew 14:27-31). Or surrender to Him like blind Bart when he said: "Jesus, thou son of David, have mercy on me!" (Mark 10:46-52). Or like Saul the persecutor, when he was struck down by the glory of Jesus. He said, "Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:1-6). Absolute surrender to the will of God is the only way I have found to have consistent victory over any of my weaknesses.

As I choose to do as He directs in my life, He makes the impossible possible! This is how I cooperate with God so that He can work in me to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). This is the process of sanctification. This is the process of recovery.

"Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him." (Step 3)


Permalink 08:52:49 am, Step(s): 02 "God can...", 962 words   English (US)

Extreme Trust

26-year-old Nancy’s life was fast falling apart when she approached Pastor Frank. For 3 days in a row, Nancy kept coming back and pouring out all her troubles. Despite the previous attempts of several marriage counselors, her marriage was failing. She had her baby girl with her as she pleaded for help. This baby was Nancy and her husband’s final attempt to restore their marriage, but it wasn’t working. Eventually, Pastor Frank said, “Nancy, here is something that could help. He handed her this quote:

“The Father’s presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and [so] it is for us. He who is imbued (permeated or saturated) with the Spirit of Christ, abides (dwells, rests, continues, stands firm) in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Savior, who surrounds him with His presence (hugged by Jesus). Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord’s permission, and ‘all things’ that are permitted ‘work together for good to them that love God.’ (Romans 8:28).” (Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing p71)

The following day, Nancy returned to see the pastor, along with her non-Christian husband. Pastor Frank told them that if just one of them would follow these principal’s their marriage could be saved and if both of them would do it they could have a relationship beyond what they thought was possible. Then he had prayer with them.

Nancy left with a firm commitment to accept everything that touched her life as coming from Christ. Her husband did not. In fact, he did everything he could to make her life a living hell. But Nancy remained committed to accept everything he dished out in a Christ-like manner. It took 3 months for his heart to soften then they began to enjoy a relationship that they previously thought was impossible. It was as if heaven had opened up in their lives.

One day Nancy and her husband decided to go sightseeing in the mountains and left the baby with her in-laws. Grandma laid the baby on the couch then sat down to read a book. Before long, they both fell asleep. When Grandma woke up, her granddaughter was eating the last of the pills that she had accidently left beside the couch. Grandma was paralyzed with fear – unable to do anything to help. When Nancy and her husband returned from their trip and entered the home, they quickly realized what had happened, picked up the pill bottle and the baby, who was now comatose, and rushed her to the emergency room. Within an hour the baby was dead.

The news spread quickly. Members of Nancy’s church started coming to her home, offering their sympathies – which Nancy accepted. As a result, Nancy began to experience the same type of bitterness and resentment in her heart that she had experienced prior to meeting with Pastor Frank. It occurred to her that she had accepted everything that touched her life as coming from Christ – but not this. She went into her bedroom, fell to her knees, and confessed to God her lack of trust in Him. She was totally honest with God about her pain. She said, “I don’t like or understand why this happened, but I do trust You, Father. You know what you are doing. Please help my lack of trust.

A few minutes later, the doorbell rang – more church members coming to offer their sympathies. Nancy raised her hand and said I don’t want to be rude or insensitive but I do not want your sympathies. I want you to understand that a year ago I gave my life and the life of my daughter to God. Please pray with me and praise God for working in our lives. Well, this same scenario played out a few more times, until word finally got out that Nancy did not want sympathy.

When Nancy’s in-laws came for a visit, they told Nancy that they had been watching her over the last year and had witnessed an incredible change in her life. They had seen no resentment in her over the death of her baby – which they did not understand. They said, “If God can work a transformation in your life like this, we believe He can do it in us too, can we come to church with you?” A short time later they took their stand in baptism.

Not long after that, when Nancy’s husband got home from work one day, he told Nancy that she was not the same girl that he had married. The change he had seen in her and his parents brought him conviction. He wanted the same experience. He too was later baptized as he began a born-again relationship with God.

Just as the sun of the daytime melts butter and hardens clay, so does the Spirit of the Son of God use the trials of this world to strengthen our character, as we let Him. The question is, “Do we have the kind of trust in God that melts us to surrender all to Him?”

I wonder what difference it would have made if Nancy had made different choices……….? I wonder what difference it would make if I were to always show extreme trust in God?

"Now unto him who 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, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:24-25)

"Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity." (Step 2)


Permalink 08:22:19 am, Step(s): 01 "I can't...", 182 words   English (US)

Weary and Scattered

"When he saw the multitudes, he was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd." (Matthew 9:36) NKJV

Have you ever felt weary and scattered? I sure have. There seems to be no lack of problems to deal with, projects to complete, temptations to face, schedules to meet, and hard decisions to make. These things all serve to remind me that, of myself, I am powerless. On my own, I will spin out-of-control to a place I don't want to be.

But, thank God, I don't need to be without the Good Shepherd. I am not alone. When I am feeling weary and scattered, Jesus has compassion on me. And, His Spirit works in me to will and to do His good pleasure (Philippians 2:13), as I choose to surrender my will to His.

But, will I recognize my powerlessness and my great need? If I don't, then I will continue to be weary and scattered. It is only as we admit our powerlessness and realize that our lives are unmanageable that true recovery can begin.

"We admitted we were powerless over our problems, that our lives had become unmanageable." (Step 1)


Permalink 08:52:56 am, Step(s): 11 Prayer and Meditation, 304 words   English (US)

Partaking of the Divine Nature

As I search for God's will for my life, my first consideration is the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-20). Then I recall that, "... this is the will of God, even [my] sanctification..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3). More specifically, the apostle Paul tells me that God's will is that I should be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), and that I should do the will of God from my heart (Ephesians 6:6). He also said that, no matter what happens, I should give thanks, because that's God's will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).

I really want to do God's will because "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:17) and because Jesus said, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:35). I want to be tight with Jesus. I want to do the will of God. I want to be transformed/sanctified. But, can I actually accomplish this? A short answer was given when, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23).

So, I must ask myself: How great is my trust in God? Will I trust Him enough to choose to do His will, even when it seems impossible? Do I really believe in His great and precious promises?

"According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:3,4)

"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)

"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)

As I continue to search for God's will for my life, and the power to carry that out, once again I come back to surrender -- I want to die to self and be alive to God. I think Paul said it best, when he said: "I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)

Is it possible to do God's will -- all the time? With all the evidence given me in Holy Scripture, I must answer "Yes". My ability to do God's will is directly proportional to how much I empty my life of "self", because that's just how much He can fill me with His sweet Holy Spirit. That's how much He can "will and to do of his good pleasure" in my life (Philippians 2:13).

"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)


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