Thursday, March 5, 2015

Finding Our Way Back to God


March 5
Scripture reading for today:
Ephesians 5; Amos 4 &
5
I am concerned about you. I am afraid you will rush past big believing, and move on to trying to behave, without pausing to prepare. Frankly, that’s easier than doing the work of believing, and humans gravitate towards softer, gentler solutions. If a microwave will accomplish the same purposes as a conventional oven, we will pick the microwave, right?
So let’s read chapter five in Ephesians, and I’ll illustrate my concern. Imitate God, therefore, in everything you do, because you are his dear children. Live a life filled with love, following the example of Christ. Ephesians 5:12 NLT
Reframing:

Believing will require me to know God well enough to imitate Him in every single solitary moment of my life.
  • Believing is contingent upon me understanding my relationship with God (I’m His kid; not his indentured servant, not His pawn, not an object of His wrath; I’m His baby.)
  • Believing will always, always, always mean loving, and loving is best exemplified by Christ.
  • Believing will require me to know how Jesus loved, and will necessitate me learning how to apply how He loved to my daily life experience (I’ve got work to do!).
Hang with me on this point: it’s far easier to rush
to the second half Ephesians and study what it says we should do than to camp in two little verses long enough to grasp their astounding implications.

Thought for today: Once a long time ago, Pete (my husband) and I were teaching a “newlywed” Bible study at church. Someone in charge of curriculum got the idea that the summer months would be a good time to bring out a series of biblical studies on sexuality. I’ll never forget the experience for a variety of reasons, some of which I can’t share! One Sunday our topic was homosexuality, and these newlyweds really got into it! Oh, they said, what a
sin! How terrible! Just look at how clearly the scriptures speak about this subject—how dare anyone commit this vile act against holy God! The next week we talked about adultery. Specifically, we discussed Jesus’ instructions to men when he says, If you even look at another woman with lust in your heart, you’ve committed adultery in your heart (see Matthew 5:2728). The room was strangely silent. 

"It struck me as sad, really, how easy it was for us to judge others so harshly for a sin (that presumably wasn’t an issue for any of them) yet how reluctant we were to engage in meaningful conversation about an area of behaving that surely every person in that room could relate to. So I’m concerned that you’re going to follow the example of these young believers who found it easier to discuss a sin that they couldn’t relate to than it was to wrestle with one that they no doubt had experienced. When we rush through believing and straight to behaving, this can happen to us. We can seek to avoid getting honest about our own stuff and instead set up rules to live by that we think we can manage on our own—independently of God. I warn you: don’t do this. None of us can behave our way into the good graces of God, nor do we have to! God has a different way to handle our “issues” that is far more effective than us trying to muster up the self control necessary to play by the rules." from northstarcommunity.com


I was excited when I found this devotional for recovery. It is truly filled with lots of practical and thought provoking ideas.  To read more visit http://www.northstarcommunity.com/clientimages/44773/documents/devotional12in12.pdf





Wednesday, March 4, 2015

When We Don't Know What to Pray For

Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God. Romans 8:26-27

There are days when I literally just want to give up. I feel like I'm failing on so many fronts - not even one small victory. In fact, it's so bad that I just don't know how to pray. What do I say? What do I ask for? If I knew what to pray for I'd probably try and do it right? I know it sounds weird - I should know exactly what to pray for..the things that have me in despair. But in reality, I don't even know where to begin to find the words.

And then one day I read this nugget of a verse. The Spirit himself intercedes on my behalf. The Spirit knows my heart, and my situation and when I am too weak, too weary, too emotional spent when I try to utter words of pray and nothing comes out that makes sense - the Spirit helps me out.

I can't say how that in and of itself gives me such hope!  The verse says that the spirit intercedes according to the will of God - and God's will is perfect. So I'm not going to even doubt what the Spirit asked for. This verse is not to be used as an out from praying at all, but it does help us understand that there are going to be times in our lives when we can only muster out "Help" to God and the Spirit just runs with it. And God knew this would happen and planned for it on our behalf!  Truly amazing to me.

For me, with all the battles being fought, that's enough. And so I end with "thank you my precious Father". When this happens, mention this to your accountability partner/sponsor and talk it through. God provides us help on many fronts.



Tuesday, March 3, 2015

True Love

Love must be sincere. Romans 12:9

The word "love"  is probably the most used and leaset understood word in any language.

Jesus Christ came to demonstrate the meaning of true love when He willingly gave His life for all humanity. He took our punishment upon Himself to redeeem us from our sinfulness. As He said, "Greater love has no one for this, that he lay doen his life for his friends" John 15:13

True love involves making sacrifices for the sake of another. It is tolerant, patient and understanding, even in the most trying circumstances. It involves forgivness and giving of yourself for the benefit of others. It means to love others as Jesus loves you.

Grace for Each Moment

-- I am going to extend today's devotional for a moment. The author says we need to love others as Jesus loves us. I am adding that we must also love OURSELVES as Jesus loves us. For those batteling an addiction - that is a hard concept because of the feelings of unworthiness.  Infact, you must learn to love yourself first before you can adequately love others.


Monday, March 2, 2015

God's Redeeming Love

To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of Glory. Colossians 1:27

The wonder and glory of the Christian gospel is that God loved us while we were still sinners. Without such a love, we would indeed have still been lost.

As you become deeply aware of your imperfections and sins, you are also aware that there is a divine and all-powerful Diety who is calling you to a better and nobler life. Because of our sinfulness it is impossible to live life as God intended for us without His help.

So accept God's offer to recreate and transform your life. Allow the Holy Spirit to fill you with the strength you need to walk according to God's ways.

Grace for Each Moment


Sunday, March 1, 2015

Freedom from Addiction

Freedom from Addiction by Sarah Phillips
I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

Today's daily devotion is a story I read that I just knew I had to share as so many will be able to relate . Visit the freedom from addiction site for more.

Romans 12: 1-2
Have you ever met someone you thought was beyond God's reach? Someone whose life has sunk to such depths all seems hopeless? Most of us can think of people we've encountered like that. It may even be someone we love.

When we start to lose hope for another's soul, it's good to remind ourselves that some of the greatest Christian Saints were some of the most broken people. This week, in my search for Christian heroes, I encountered the story of one such person that did not resemble the perfect stained-glass images I grew up with. His name was Matthew Talbot, and here's a glimpse into his life.

The second of 13 children, Matthew was born in Dublin, Ireland on May 2, 1856. His family was poor and heavy drinking was the norm among his father and brothers. So from the start, Matthew was predisposed to alcoholism -- and sure enough, his drinking began at age 12.

As Matthew entered his teen years, odd jobs led way to a career working with bricklayers. While the local community considered him excellent at his trade, his drinking became central to his life. By the time his twenties arrived, it was common for Matthew to spend all his earned wages obtaining alcohol.

When that wasn't enough, he began selling his possessions and eventually resorted to credit. Finally, after racking up too much debt, he sunk to an all-time low: stealing.

Not only was Matthew a heavy drinker-turned-thief, but he had a terrible temper and a vulgar tongue. Gripped by his disease and his poor choices, Matthew's life was going nowhere. His mother, Elizabeth, pleaded with him to change his ways. Finally, Matthew's life sunk so low he had no earthly place to turn.

So, in 1884, Matthew's mother received an answer to her prayers. The 28-year-old went to the only place left to go: Church. There, he confessed his sins and took a pledge to avoid drinking for 3 months. He seemed an unlikely candidate to keep the pledge. Yet Matthew had experienced an interior conversion in that church.

Three months passed, and he was still sober. Inspired by his progress, he pledged to avoid drinking for life and also gave up tobacco.

While Matthew's first several years of sobriety consisted of intense, interior battles, he lived the rest of his life with unwavering devotion to God. The once angry, vulgar Irishman became kind to those he encountered, and he paid back all his debts. He lived simply, prayed daily, and served those in need, eventually taking monastic vows.

Mathew Talbot died at age 69 while walking to church. He had been sober for 41 years.
Matthew's story is a testament to God's transforming power as well as our participation in that transformation. A tearful mother pleaded, a broken young man made a decision to change, and God poured out His graces.

 It's also worth noting that Matthew, with the help of his pastor, employed many of the same steps later incorporated into the Alcoholic's Anonymous 12-Step program. While he wasn't healed overnight, Matthew Talbot eventually experienced new life, giving hope to those battling addictions and the people who love them.




Saturday, February 28, 2015

Addiction to Activity


You may say, “I am allowed to do anything.” But I reply, “Not everything is good for you.” And even though I am allowed to do anything, I must not become a slave to anything. 
—1 Corinthians 6:12 (NLT)

What is all the commotion about? It seems that everyone is rushing about, trying to work through our to-do lists so that we can… add more items to our to-do lists. Let’s get some perspective here! We are not doing ourselves any favors by living life at supersonic speed. Today, we cram more and more activity into our lives because our culture encourages us to do so and because we can.

This addiction to activity has also infected the church. It’s wonderful that so many churches today can offer a wide variety of ministry services in order to address a wide variety of life issues. But, far too many Christ-followers cram their schedules with too many (good) things: ministry meetings, program meetings, small group Bible studies, accountability groups, recovery groups, and even meetings to plan more meetings! And, as a result life loses its balance.

Remember, just because we can do something, doesn’t mean we should! Busyness for busyness sake—even when the busyness is ministry oriented—is counterproductive at best, and simply sinful at worst.

When I look at Jesus’ life, I see a man who was not ruled by His schedule. He seldom seemed rushed. For instance, I love that while He pursued plans, He would welcome interruptions from people in need. From what we know, Jesus never said anything like this to anyone, “I’m sorry, I can’t help you. I need to be in Jericho by sundown.”

Wouldn’t it be refreshing to cut back on our pace of activities and actually live more like Jesus? Wouldn’t it be helpful to become more of the salt and light that Jesus called us to be in our neighborhoods and communities and spent less time in activities and meetings just talking about it?

Today, give some thought to the pace of your life. If necessary, begin the process of weeding out activities from your life that may be good, but actually prevent you from living a balanced life.

GOING DEEPER:
1. What good activities are you involved in that could actually be (or become) obstacles to your spiritual health and effectiveness in serving Christ?

2. Are you simply too busy? If so, what steps can you take this week to get your schedule under control?

FURTHER READING:
Luke 7:11-17; 10:38-42; Matthew 5:13-16; Psalm 46:10




Friday, February 27, 2015

Allow Faith to Dispel Fear

There are few people who do not harbor fear in one form of another. It is a strange fact that many people cannot explain the fear that haunts them but it is nevertheless a burning presence in their lives. 

There is only one sure cure for a life that is dominated by fear, and that is living faith in Jesus Christ. Fear and faith cannot co-exist in the same life. Faith nurtures faith and fear nurtures fear. Place your trust in God.

At first, in the little things in your life, His love and wisdom will be revealed and confirmed, and in time, the bigger things in your life will be under His control too.

He said to His disciples "Why are you so afraid? Do you still have no faith?"

Grace for each Moment

--I think fear is the number one reason that addicts hold onto the old way of life. Questions rattling around in one's head:: What is I just can't give it up? What is someone finds out I go to AA? Will my wife leave me if I reveal to her my addiction to pornography? It takes courage to finally take a stand and say "Enough insanity!" and to let it all go. But fear leaves our hands grasping that bottle or joint or whatever your addiction.  But FAITH will release it. You don't have to have all the answers.  But by faith He, our Jesus Christ, will begin to lead your life out of that pit. But ONLY if you let him.