Archive for the ‘road to recovery’ Category

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Romans 13:8-10 LOVE ONE ANOTHER

August 17, 2011

Paul reminds us that all of the commandments are summed up with “You shall love your neighbor as yourself”. He states in verse 10 that “Love does no harm to a neighbor; therefore love is the fulfillment of the law.” Jesus, in Matthew 22:38-40 tells us the same thing. In Deuteronomy 10:19 the Jews are told to “love the stranger” because they were strangers in the land of Egypt.

I too was a “stranger” before I met Christ and someone loved me enough to tell me about Him, pray with me and bring me into His Kingdom.

We are told by Jesus in John 13:35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.”

The question is: does the world see us that way? When someone thinks of me, do they think, “look how she loves others!”

I know that, as I grow in the Lord and in recovery, I have grown to love and continue to move from one level of love to another. I am often surprised when I realize the depth of the love I have for people at this time in my life. Because I am being conformed to His image, I know that I will continue to grow in this manner. What a wondrous gift we have been given!

I, one who isolated, judged, and avoided others, now can see them, love them, and be of use to them and I know my heart isn’t full yet. I would never have believed this was possible before I surrendered my life to Him, the One who is love. Jesus Christ is the answer to everything.

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Live Peaceably with all.

July 25, 2011

   Romans 12:18   “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all.”    Paul begins this thought with the words “If possible”.  That indicates to me that there will be times that it is not possible to live peaceably; however, he then goes on to say:  “as far as it depends on you”.  That tells me that, no matter how difficult the situation is with the other person, it is up to us to live peaceably with them. 

   I have learned to remove myself from the pain, to walk away and regroup within myself.  I then take my anger or hurt feelings to God, talk to a friend if possible, and try and quiet the disturbance within me.   I have been trained to “let it go”, “pray for them”, “act as if”, and only address it with the other person if my Lord gives me the words, the strength and an opportunity to do so only after I am no longer disturbed.  Most of these tools have come from my recovery program; however, they are scriptural and they work.

   Today, I choose to be happy, joyous and free.  The Bible tells me to have the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor. 2:16).  The only time He was harsh was with the Pharisees and then only because they were corrupting the people. 

   So, I will continue to work on myself to live peaceably with all.  We are supposed to be different, we are supposed to be the light to a dark and dying world; we are supposed to love as He did.  So, if possible, as far as it depends on me…

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Repay No One Evil for Evil

July 18, 2011

Romans 12:17-Repay no one evil for evil but take thought for what is noble in the sight of all.

             ‘Think, Think, Think.”  Paul says to bless those who persecute you; Jesus said forgive 70 times 70, turn the other cheek, judge not, etc..  Scripture tells us that vengeance belongs to God.

             So many times, David’s life was in jeopardy by Saul yet David never repaid him with evil—even when opportunity placed Saul in the perfect place for revenge.

             1 Pet 2:23 says of Jesus:  “When He suffered, He did not threaten to get even”. LNT    

             I put the definition of “revenge” below.  This is not a place where we are to go.  This is God’s.  If we “get even” we are repaying evil with evil.  We are trespassing into God’s territory and that is not a good thing to do.

             We must forgive, turn it over to God to deal with, pray for the offender and quiet the disturbance within ourselves.  I have also been taught through my recovery program to look at myself, to see why I am offended…what is my root, how am I perceiving the offense—through what “truth”,  God’s or some learned childhood misconception. 

             For me to get offended, it takes a lot of work.   It’s easier just not to get offended, or to remove myself from the situation, take it to God, turn it over and leave it with Him.

  Revenge; Revenger  reMD-venj A, reMD-venj AeTr: The same Hebrew and Greek words are used to express the idea of “to avenge” and “to revenge” ( „QÁNF,or derivative; eÁkdikeÂw‰ or derivative). In English these words are synonymous in that they are both used to express the infliction of punishment upon the wrongdoer, but “to take revenge” may also imply a spiteful, wrong or malignant spirit. In the latter case, RV preserves “revenge” (compare Jer 20:10; Ezk 25:15; 25:17 is an anthropomorphism), but, wherever it is synonymous with “avenge,” this word is used (compare Num 31:2,3; Ps 79:10; Nah 1:2; Jth 13:20; Rom 13:4; 2 Cor 7:11; 10:6 RV; AV has “revenge” in all these cases). In Dt 32:42, AV “revenge” is a wrong translation. Read with RV “from the head of the leaders of the enemy” or RV margin “the hairy head of the enemy.”    A. L. Breslich

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Associate with the Lowly

July 17, 2011

Romans 13:16 goes on to say “Do not be haughty, but associate with the lowly, live peaceably with all, never be conceited.” 

I find that to be true in recovery.  I see it there most of the time.  No one is looked down upon.  All are welcomed no matter what their condition or status.   Actually, for the most   part, no one’s status is even known.  The one who is the “lowly”, the “least”, the most needy is the one best welcomed, encouraged, accepted and loved. 

In the Church at large—not so much.  

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Rejoice With Those Who Rejoice, Weep With Those Who Weep

July 15, 2011

Romans 13:15  “Rejoice with those who rejoice, weep with those who weep.” 

There was a time in my life when I had shut off most of my emotions.  I did not allow myself to feel happy or sad.  When I saw someone really happy, I resented them.  When I saw someone sad, I didn’t want to be around them.

 In thinking about this scripture, I am so very grateful that today this is not the case.  God has truly removed my heart of stone and given me a heart of flesh (Ez. 36:26).  This process was not quick and was not easy. The stone had to be chipped away with His chisel and many times was a painful process.  There are still bits of stone hanging on, but I know that God will continue to conform me to the image of my Lord (Ro. 8:29).

 I can truly rejoice with those who rejoice today and I can weep with those who weep.  I am no longer afraid to feel. I am able to become vulnerable and not be threatened.  I can love.  Thank you Jesus Christ for making this possible and giving me Your heart.

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Bless those who Persecute You

July 13, 2011

Romans 13:14     Bless Those Who Persecute You, Bless and Curse Not.

   To be sure, I looked up the word “bless” in the Second Edition of Webster’s Unabridged Dictionary.  The root of the word is “blood” and signifies something holy, set apart or consecrated for God.  It goes on in the lesser meanings to declare “to make happy” or “wish happiness to”.  I think, here in Romans 13:14, Paul means the first definition.

   In recovery, we are taught to pray for those against whom we carry resentment and to pray a blessing.  That was a difficult task for me in my early recovery years.  In later years, we joked among ourselves with the phrase “Don’t make me bless you!” because of Romans 13:14.

  To be persecuted in this instance, I am sure, is in reference to our Christianity.  We are to bless, call upon the blood of Jesus to cover that person, those who attack us because we are Christians.  This is another place I would like our Pastor to give us a teaching.  Jesus never cursed anyone, even demons if I recall correctly.  He honestly described the hypocrisy of the Pharisees, but never cursed them.

  When I listen to the atheists denigrate Christianity, it upsets and angers me.  I try and pray for them, but not wholeheartedly.  This is an area where I need clarification and some work on my self.  Are we to plead the blood and pray that they be set apart as holy to God?  If so, I have a lot to “practice” and learn.  But if that is the case, that is really cool…like “pouring burning coals on their heads” (Ro. 12:20), only these “coals” could convict to righteousness.  Hmmm..

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Practice Hospitality

July 12, 2011

In Romans 12:13c, Paul tells us to practice hospitality.  Since he says to “practice”, I would guess it does not come naturally.  I know it did not for me.  It took years for me to develop that trait, and it was my husband’s hospitality that initiated me. 

For most of my life, I did not allow others to get to know me.  I had a very few friends who managed to infiltrate my walled up self, but that was more because of them than because of me.  I was more comfortable by myself-isolating.  I did not invite people to my home because I didn’t know what to do with them, or I was afraid they would judge me as insufficient.  However, my home was open to my son’s friends any time they were in need.  But then, I was in a maternal position and I knew how to do that.

 Today, all of that has changed.  I got into a recovery program, turned my life back to Jesus Christ, and little by little, He changed me into the person I was always supposed to be.  He truly pulled me out of the miry clay and set my feet upon a Rock. (Psalm 40:2)

 In attending recovery meetings, I began to interact with other women and found out that they liked me and didn’t judge me.  I married my wonderful husband and that broadened my world.  He truly has a heart of compassion and hospitality.  We slowly began inviting people that we did not know well over for dinner, a couple at a time.  I started a bi-monthly woman’s group on Saturday mornings so that I could learn to be comfortable around women…it lasted about six years and was a tremendous blessing to all of us.

We now host an open Thursday night dinner followed by Bible Study and a Sunday morning brunch following church.  We’ve opened our home to others in need.  And, guess what?  I love it.  I will continue to “practice”, I hope, for the rest of my life.

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Ro. 12:13a Contribute to the Needs of the Saints…

July 9, 2011

We are commanded to love one another (John 15:12).  When you love someone, you are aware of their needs.  Many of us support missions financially and that is good.   Many of us do not “see” the needs in our own church family.

I know that there is a “church mask” that is worn by most of us.  It masks the needs we may have.  The Holy Spirit can break through that mask by giving us discernment if we are willing to follow His lead.  He can also show us how to meet the need in a way that will not produce an enablement of what might be a bad habit (like giving money to an addict).   That is a place where the gift of mercy sometimes does more harm than good.  But, for the most part, if someone needs financial help and we can help, then do it.  If they need friendship, love, compassion, or just to be welcomed and noticed we must be able to fill that need.   And if we ourselves are in need, let others know. 

I belong to a fellowship where there are no masks for the most part.  If someone asks “How are you?”  An honest reply usually follows: “fine” is not an acceptable answer.  “Hi, how are you?” has become a greeting instead of a question in our society.  That’s too bad.

Jesus said in John 13:35 that all men shall know that we are His disciples by our love for one another.  So…how’s that going?

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Patience…

July 7, 2011

Ro. 12:12 b  Be patient in tribulation… 

It seems to me that, unless you know and trust God, you cannot possibly be patient in tribulation or trouble.  The worldly way is to “grab the bull by the horns” or charge into the problem without any counsel or guidance.  That usually just leads to more trouble and tribulation. 

The Christian way is to take our burdens to the Lord, lay them at the Cross, leave them and go back to seeking His Kingdom.  He promises that if we seek His Kingdom first, He will take care of the rest.

 I prefer to rest in Him, do the next right thing, get advice if necessary and rely upon the Holy Spirit for guidance through the Word of God.

 The worldly way does not work.  It only feeds the problem and gives way for more difficulties.

 I have learned to turn it over and not take it back.  It’s a battle sometimes, but if I keep my mind on Kingdom work, I don’t have time to go garbage picking.

 

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Never Lag in Zeal and Earnestness

July 3, 2011

Romans 12:11 begins, “Not lagging behind in diligence”; some versions say “zeal”.   

I remember when I was first born again in 1975; my passion for the Lord and for sharing the good news was intense.  I could not stop talking about Him, about grace, about freedom.  I drove most people around me crazy; they either ran away from me or accepted the Lord to shut me up.  Thankfully, those who accepted Him are still with Him today. 

I walked away from Him for several years in the 1980s and didn’t fully recommit myself until 1996.  During that time, although my life took a downward spiral, I always had a strong sense that He was just waiting for me to come back.  Even then, if anyone asked me about Him, the fire returned as I witnessed (in word, truly not in action).  The Holy Spirit honored the attempt despite me.  A friend told me during that time that because I had been sealed with the Holy Spirit, I would return to the Lord.

 Well, I did return and He received me back, and blessed me and loved me and forgave me.  What I learned while wandering in my self imposed wilderness has now given me compassion, understanding and a ministry to guide others who need a savior back to Him as well. 

 The zeal and passion has returned, but now in a mature, level-headed, scripture based and guided fashion (by the Holy Spirit, good teaching of the Word and great mentors). 

So, if the zeal has left, do not despair:  “Our misery becomes our ministry” (Mark Shell). Return to Him and He will return to you.