Luke 10:21 At that time Jesus, full of joy through the Holy Spirit, said, “I praise you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because you have hidden these things from the wise and learned, and revealed them to little children. Yes, Father, for this was your good pleasure
The Bible and The Twelve Steps share an important characteristic:
They do not require that we are well-dressed, well groomed, scholarly or logical to understand their simple truths. To the contrary, over intellectualizing or over spiritualizing them can lead us to miss the truth altogether. Those who are “wise and learned” actually become aware of how little they do know. The less we know the easier we are taught. Children are in nature open to this concept.
Father God, I pray that you help us to have child like faith. Please help us to leave all of our preconceived ideas and thoughts at the door and be open to what you would have us learn. Open our ears to hear, eyes to see and our hearts to accept the truths you have for us. In Jesus name I pray, amen
A GENTLE WALK THROUGH THE 12 STEPS
Luke 9:23 and he said before everyone, “Whoever is willing to come after me, let him deny himself, let him take up his cross every day, and let him come after me.”
I want to break this down into four parts.
1. be willing to follow Jesus
Hopefully you have made a conscious decision to give your life to Christ. Each of us are as individual as our own fingerprint or the retina of your eye. Each of us have our own testimony of why and how we came to grace. Most likely no two are the same. But the bottom line is we are willing to follow Jesus. The first three steps are:
Step 1: “We admit that, in of ourselves we are powerless and unable to manage our own life.”
Step 2: “Came to believe that God, a Power greater than us, could restore us to sanity and stability.”
Step 3: “Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as revealed in the Bible.”
When we come to Christ and admit that we are powerless to sin, and when we are honest about this, IT IS SIN, that is when He is able to step in and make a difference. That is when He can get involved with the authority, influence and strength that we lack in our self.
Each time he said, “My grace is all you need. My power works best in weakness.” So now I am glad to boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ can work through me. 2Cor 12:9 NLT
This brings us to the next ingredient.
2. Deny yourself
It’s not about you. It is about Jesus! Self denial is not a popular subject. For some of us it may be a new concept. The addict’s way of thinking is all about “ME”. If you break it down, sin is all about “ME”. And when it’s all about ME we become extremely selfish.
Temptation comes from our own desires, which entice us and drag us away. James 1:14NLT
However innovative it may seem, denying yourself is essential to the growth of a healthy spiritual life with Christ. Although some have taken this to extreme I don’t believe this is about being a hobbit or living a monkish style life. But if it works for you…HEY…I don’t want to tell you that is wrong. This is however about giving up sin. It is about giving up those personal hidden sins that you and God are the only ones who know anything about.
instructing us to deny ungodliness and worldly desires and to live sensibly, righteously and godly in the present age, looking for the blessed hope and the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Christ Jesus, who gave Himself for us to redeem us from every lawless deed, and to purify for Himself a people for His own possession, zealous for good deeds. Titus 2:12-14
The next 6 steps cover the “denying of self”
Step 4: “Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.”
Step 5: “Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.”
Step 6: “Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.”
Step 7: “Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.”
Step 8: “Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.”
Step 9: “Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others”
All these steps will involve a huge amount of denying our self. The moral inventory alone will demand that you put yourself to the side and be honest. It requires that you are brutally truthful and sincerely search yourself no matter how you feel about the nature of the moral issue. Once you have the inventory complete (mine is more like a catalog) confession can be made and forgiveness, where necessary, can be granted by God through the blood and grace of Jesus. All these steps truly take some self defiance. But when we ask God to “remove these shortcomings” we have to start to do some work. Remember that the flesh and the Spirit are at war with each other.
“Keep watch and pray, so that you will not give in to temptation. For the spirit is willing, but the body is weak!” Matthew 26:41NLT
This brings us to part 3.
3. Take up you cross every day
This involves sacrifice. Steps 6 and 7 are perfect examples of Jesus statement. When you get to work on your faults you have to “take up your cross daily.” It may get heavy, it may hurt. But Christ is there to help you. He promises that He will never leave you or forsake you.
“The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Deut 31:8
The next 3 steps fall in here.
Step 10: “Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.”
Step 11: “Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as revealed in the Bible, praying for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.”
Step 12: “Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to others, and to practice these principles in all our affairs.”
Continued is the key word. If we were to take just these three steps and practice them daily our quality of life would improve dramatically. Our relationships with God and others around us will flourish. Everyday interaction with people, even strangers, will become a way of sharing the good news that there is freedom from addiction and its needless entombment. Your dealings with life’s daily issues will have an innovative new outlook. These positive changes will help you in your recovery and give you new found strength to overpower many of the vices and triggers that previously prompted you toward dependence.
Pursue these steps in a continual, sustained, nonstop, unrelenting, persistent and unremitting line of attack. TAKE UP YOUR CROSS DAILY!
And the fourth part to this verse is:
4. Follow Jesus
How do we follow Jesus?
This is where the rubber meets the road. This is also where we begin to find freedom from our life controlling issues. This is where we discover independence from our obsessive, addictive and compulsive behaviors. And this is where it gets real personal. Every one of us has a personal relationship with Christ. With that being said, every one of us is at our own place with Jesus. Some further along than others. Some are stronger in certain areas. But this does not change the FACT that we are all children of God. When I was born again some of my old life habits went away right then and there. Some took a little more time. Still others God is continually working out of me.
Jesus replied, “The most important commandment is this: ‘Listen, O Israel! The LORD our God is the one and only LORD. And you must love the LORD your God with all your heart, all your soul, your entire mind, and all your strength. The second is equally important: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself. No other commandment is greater than these.” Mark 12:29-31
So, it all boils down to LOVE!