Today I finished the journal I’ve been using. When this happens I always go back to the start of it to see where I was in my recovery as it began. I then go to the middle of it to check the progress at that point. We are taught to do this in Celebrate Recovery and it has proven to be a good way to celebrate and to set goals. The journal started the end of last May so the pandemic was well into its influence. As I turned to the middle I found where we were able to start CR again in the early fall and I was able to restart the step study for men. There were 9 of us at that point. There are 5 of us now and we finish in two more weeks. It was a great time to reflect on the progress all have including me.
My post yesterday about obedience is truly where God is wanting me to stay focused. I use to wish/hope for the day when all temptation was gone, obedience was easy and following God was “a piece of cake”. Little did I know or realize how strong the flesh is and how selfish it is. I knew what it looked like from dad, I just never wanted it to be true for me. Yet, it is. Obedience is like all other recovery items–one day at a time/one moment at a time. It has taken me a long time to accept this as truth. I want to live in the reality of obedience rather than in the hope of it. The truth of one day at a time makes it far more possible knowing my flesh is just like everyone else–selfish and needing surrendered.
This morning I awoke 30 minutes later than I had intended. I’d set the alarm before going to bed but neglected to turn it on. That hasn’t happened very often for me. I am usually awake ahead of the alarm and most days I don’t set it. Well, anyway, life is going to be just fine!
The reality that I’m no longer hoping to be a new creation is real. I am a new creation is true and the struggle to believe this is anchored in God’s truth and not my fragile hope. The message which continues to come before me now is one of consistent, immediate obedience. God’s Holy Spirit awaits this obedience. My devotions keep talking about it. In my lifetime I’ve truly wanted to be an obedient servant to God. But, I can go down the list of times when I took charge of “when and if” I did obey. I had my own boundaries around where I’d step. My faith/trust was too often in my court and not in God’s.
Today I find God wanting me to fully trust. This is what a new creation is taught to do. I find this message to be so humbling and yet filled with Strength–God’s Strength. As a child I thought I needed to be strong so that the ways of dad and my brother didn’t become “my ways”. God has lifted my eyes more fully to Him for He wants me to be strong in His Ways. This can only happen through obedience to His Way–His Holy Spirit’s nudges. Trust & Obey, the old hymn says, “Trust and Obey, for there’s no other way to be happy in Jesus, but to Trust and Obey.”
Sometimes on this journey of life we get awakened to a reality which is completely unexpected. This happened for me last night. Last Sunday morning our quartet sang a song right before the message was given. We had chosen this particular one because of its direct application to the sermon being given. I wrote about it that morning in my blog. I was asked to speak to the song ahead of its being sung because the title is confusing–God Doesn’t Care. I was even complimented several times by different ones about the effectiveness of the words used and the effectiveness of the song itself to ones who have struggled with their value to God. Even in choir practice last night a lady spoke up and thanked the quartet for its song Sunday morning. The choir applauded.
I was asked to stay for a moment at the end of choir along with one other from the quartet. We were told that the song was offensive to someone/s in the congregation. God Does Care about our sins and what they are this voice expressed. Even though I’d tried to establish this foundation ahead of the song’s delivery, it was missed by some. We all know that God deeply cares about sin. That’s why He sent His Only Son. The one talking to me said that when the Spirit of God is working, know that the spirit of evil is also at work trying to cripple God’s work.
I’m glad to be brought to this level of clarity. I had prayed for God’s Spirit to touch those in need with this song’s message. I have lived a lifetime of believing I needed to somehow earn enough points with God so I’d finally be good enough for God to care for me. There were scores of people who did respond to this message in the congregation and in the streaming of it. However, I never thought to pray for the evil one to be checked. This is my wake up. I pray even now that for the Light of Jesus to penetrate to the heart and Satan’s deception will be seen for the lie it is. God is the Victor!
I love writing March 1st! Even if winter seems to be hovering, it is spring in my heart. It won’t be long now until the warmth of the sun and the length of the sun-lit day brings forth the beauty of the earth. This is truly where I find much happiness. My gratitude to God cannot be enough in just words!
I’ve been addressing the Psalms as any reader would already know. I’ve realized how much of them I’ve simply overlooked. I haven’t wanted the emotional needs they express to be about me. God has certainly been awakening me to this. I have emotional needs just as everyone else does. It is time to admit this and allow the salve of the Psalms to penetrate these needs and be a balm to them. Every morning of late I find tremendous insights into God and me as I’ve been awake to this reality I’ve denied.
I’ve been on this journey of mine for 70 years. Little did I know how deeply the wounds of my childhood would restrict God’s beauty in this tremendous book called Psalms. As a child I’m sure I needed the shield of protection from the emotional wounds of Dad and my brother. However, God is genuinely wanting me to fully let them go and better see Him working through the emotionally based being He created. It seems odd to be writing this at my age, but it is the right thing for me to be doing. God is never done bringing us back to Him.
I found out yesterday that one of the teachers who had taught for me for 20+ years has died. Then this morning I had a prayer request that a gentleman I’ve known and sang for their wedding has passed during the night. This always makes me realize just how fragile our life truly is. The hope of Jesus Christ and eternity becomes extremely real the older we get and I am there.
Today our quartet is singing for worship in the first church service. We are also singing a special number entitled: God Doesn’t Care. I’m asked to introduce the song to the congregation. I had introduced it to our quartet a couple of years ago. The words are so powerful. The title makes one think that God doesn’t give a rip! However, the words of the song make it clear that it is the darkest, deepest sin secrets we carry are all covered by the blood of Jesus. God doesn’t care how awful we feel about our sins, He has forgiven them if we only turn to His Son Jesus asking Him to forgive us.
Today I also bring to our step study the introduction to writing one’s testimony. We are about to conclude this study and so it is time to give them the opportunity to give back to the ministry by writing their testimony and giving it on a Thursday night. There is nothing that brings more anxiety than the thought of doing this, but, once one had done it, one realizes how much God will use our mess as His message when we give Him the opportunity to do so. God Doesn’t Care–He takes all of our messes and turns them into hope for another struggler when we allow Him to do this.
Listen to this verse in Psalms 68:28–“Your God has commanded your strength [your might in His service and impenetrable hardness to temptation]; O God, display Your might and strengthen what You have wrought for us!” Even though I’d read this yesterday and had underlined it, I didn’t catch the significance of it until I reread it this morning asking God to let me hear Him as I read His Word. This time I heard Him. The truth that God has commanded my strength in His service and commanded my strength in all the impenetrable hardness to temptation just makes me feel empowered. This morning God has completed this within me. I can’t explain it other than this. God’s Work is miraculous–one just knows when it is done. I thank You Father God!
Yesterday I was able to spend an hour+ with my prayer warrior. She is going to be 90 years old in a couple of weeks. I truly enjoy being with her. She always has just the right message. God keeps using her to give more and more insights into living fully for Him. I was telling her about my current scripture reading in Psalms and what Joyce Meyers had written. (My prayer warrior is the one who gave me this particular bible about 5 years ago). I told her that God was teaching me that my past doesn’t need to be my present. She told me that was a great quote which she wanted to remember. I love her encouragement!
I don’t think I’ve mentioned that John Baker, founder of Celebrate Recovery passed away last Wednesday. He was 72 and this was not expected. This ministry has spread across the world and it is now led by his son and ministry team. I thank God that John was one of His kids who listened well and the world has profited immensely because of his obedience to God. I am one of millions who have found freedom because of this man’s obedience. John’s mess became a message for the world. I always find it amazing to pause and reflect on the ways God takes each one of our messes and turns them into His message as we give all of it over to Him. How I love this God of ours!
I’m back on schedule today. A couple days ago I wrote about digging out the last of a root system which has been remnants of a past life yet it still wants to infiltrate my current life. Every once in a while it rears its ugly head and it takes me awhile to get it back in its place–surrendered and given to Jesus so it doesn’t take root again. This morning as I was reading my bible I came across an insert which Joyce Meyers writes in regards to what David had written in Psalms 62:8. The verse says, “Trust in, lean on, rely on, and have confidence in Him at all times, you people; pour out your hearts before Him. God is a refuge for us.”
After reading the chapter I read what Joyce had written. She says in part, “It is easy to trust God when things are going well. But when things are not going well, we develop character by trusting God in our difficult situations. And the more character we develop, the more our ability can be released. That is why I say that stability releases ability. The more stable we become, the more our ability will be released because God will know that He can trust us.”
I love this message Joyce writes–stability releases ability. Stability doesn’t mean that all trials and temptations are gone. It means we know what to do with them and we do it. These old torments of mine want to have me believing old lies. Well, I know what to do with them and I Praise God for providing us the confidence in Him at all times regardless of what the day brings.
Mercy and Grace–what spiritually powerful and loving terms. All of my devotional tools were hitting on this topic today. I am running late this morning and yet the day has already begun with mercy and grace. How I love our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ!
I have to admit that what I’ve been writing about the last couple days just doesn’t go away. I actually hoped that writing about it would cause it to be done. I have written earlier that I didn’t like so much reading the Psalms. They were too full of emotions. It didn’t matter who was writing each one of them, they were always pleading, praising, confessing, begging. I never wanted to be like this. I wanted to be a solid follower of Jesus who didn’t need to do all these emotional acts. The emotional acts reminded me always of my dad. I’ve also written many times that I’ve learned that dad cannot be my barometer for my walk with God, my “not being sinful”. If I thought I was doing better than dad I hoped I was pleasing God.
All of this is pretty much behind me now. However, in reading the Psalms now I find myself realizing all these emotions are also mine. I’m no longer in denial to them. My barometer for living each day has become Jesus Christ and His Holy Spirit lets me know when I’m needing to “step away” or “turn away”. In my inner heart, as David talks about, I’ve had a belief that I just couldn’t be good enough or clean enough for God’s Presence within me–His Holy Spirit. I didn’t want to read the Psalms for they talked too much about what I wanted to be in denial to. “Create in me a clean heart, Oh God, and renew a right Spirit within me.” Psalms 51:10. As I was reading this I had a picture come to my mind of me digging out the last of an old root system. The soil is now fertile and I was planting a healthy, vigorous plant in this new garden–my inner heart. This plant was replacing the deep roots of disbelief with the plant of self-love, self-appreciation and self-confidence. These were the very things my prayer warrior had prayed last summer for me. This is what “the right spirit within me” is. This is what God originally created in you and me at the beginning. Wow! Our God is so AMAZING!