That's why it is important for me to take time daily for introspection -- asking God to convict me of sin in my life and then I must promptly admit it and deal with it, according to His will. This brings me peace, and peace is exactly what I need, in order to face another day in this crazy hectic world.
" For the message God delivered through angels has always stood firm, and every violation of the law and every act of disobedience was punished. So what makes us think we can escape if we ignore this great salvation that was first announced by the Lord Jesus himself and then delivered to us by those who heard him speak?" (Hebrews 2:2-3 )]]>
There are some people from my past for which I have been unable to make amends. For various reasons, it hasn't been possible. Through my recovery process (since 1994), I've become willing to make amends to them all. And, maybe someday, I'll have the opportunity to do that for some. But for others, it wouldn't be a good idea because it could cause further injury. I pray for these people, when God brings them to my mind, but I feel bad that I can’t do more.
Maybe I can do more. Many years ago I said to God, "I've spent much of my life doing things that have hurt other people. Now I want to spend the rest of my life doing what I can to help other people". I know this doesn't make up for the pain I have caused. And I know that doing good doesn't justify me in the sight of God. I am still a wretched sinner, only saved by the blood of Jesus. But in hurting people, I know I have done harm to the human race and to God.
So now, I choose to do what I can to make amends to the human race. That is why I write in this blog. That is why I facilitate small groups. That is why I mentor and/or sponsor men in need. That is why I speak publicly on sanctification/recovery topics. But, that’s not my only reason for doing these things. I do them because it helps me too. It keeps recovery topics fresh in my mind. It keeps me accountable, as I share my weaknesses. All these things help to accelerate my own recovery. And that’s gooood :-)
"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 ) "And they overcame him by the blood of the Lamb, and by the word of their testimony; and they loved not their lives unto the death." (Revelation 12:11 )]]>
Because of this, it seems to me that, my recovery process is largely dependent upon my willingness.
The question is, "Will I continue to willingly follow God's leading through this process of Sanctification?" Yes, making amends is uncomfortable. It's even scary. But, looking back now on the many times that I have willingly made amends, I can honestly say that the pain is well worth the gain. Peace always comes to me out of the turmoil of those painful experiences.
No matter how steep the path of recovery becomes, He is willing and able (Eph 3:20 ) to keep me climbing. "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13 )
Jesus said, "Therefore if thou bring thy gift to the altar, and there rememberest that thy brother hath ought against thee; Leave there thy gift before the altar, and go thy way; first be reconciled to thy brother, and then come and offer thy gift." (Matthew 5:23-24 ). "If your enemies are hungry, feed them. If they are thirsty, give them something to drink. In doing this, you will heap burning coals of shame on their heads.' Don’t let evil conquer you, but conquer evil by doing good." (Romans 12:20-21 )]]>
You parents—if your children ask for a loaf of bread, do you give them a stone instead? Or if they ask for a fish, do you give them a snake? Of course not! So if you sinful people know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your heavenly Father give good gifts to those who ask him."(Matthew 7:7-11 ).
Well now, that seems pretty easy. I'll just ask God to remove my shortcomings, and He’ll do it. That’s perfect! I’m in charge. That's what I want. I'll be my own god and God will be at my beck and call. But, now let's contrast that notion with what He said later in the same chapter:
"Not everyone who calls out to me, ‘Lord! Lord!’ will enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Only those who actually do the will of my Father in heaven will enter. On judgment day many will say to me, ‘Lord! Lord! We prophesied in your name and cast out demons in your name and performed many miracles in your name.’ But I will reply, ‘I never knew you. Get away from me, you who break God’s laws." (Matthew 7:21-23 ).
Oh, does He mean that I actually have to do something? I thought God was supposed to do everything for me, without my participation. What's up with that? Isn't salvation a free gift? Won't God work in me to will and to do His could pleasure (Philippians 2:13 )? Sure He will, but not without my cooperation. Remember what Paul said a few verses earlier: "Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" (Philippians 2:5 ). And, "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling" (Philippians 2:12 ).
I can ask until kingdom come, without success. It is only when I listen to God's still small voice (1 Kings 19:12 ), trusting that He will enable me to do what He asks, and then choose to obey, that my life is changed. By opening the door of my heart in this way, Jesus is made welcome to come into my heart, remove my shortcomings, and renew my character.
Listen to how Jesus says it: "I correct and discipline everyone I love. So be diligent and turn from your indifference. Look! I stand at the door and knock. If you hear my voice and open the door, I will come in, and we will share a meal together as friends. Those who are victorious will sit with me on my throne, just as I was victorious and sat with my Father on his throne." (Revelation 3:19-21 )]]>
"True success in any line of work is not the result of chance or accident or destiny. It is the outworking of God's providences, the reward of faith and discretion, of virtue and perseverance. Fine mental qualities and a high moral tone are not the result of accident. God gives opportunities; success depends upon the use made of them.
While God was working in Daniel and his companions "to will and to do of His good pleasure," they were working out their own salvation. (Philippians 2:12,13 ). Herein is revealed the outworking of the divine principle of co-operation, without which no true success can be attained. Human effort avails nothing without divine power; and without human endeavor, divine effort is with many of no avail. 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. Those who walk in the path of obedience will encounter many hindrances. Strong, subtle influences may bind them to the world; but the Lord is able to render futile every agency that works for the defeat of His chosen ones; in His strength they may overcome every temptation, conquer every difficulty." (PK 486-487)]]>