Life’s Hurts, Habits and Hang-ups and Their Healing Choices
Subtitle: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord. (Mark 1:35)
Prepared and preached by Pastor Steve Rhodes for and at Bethel Friends Church on Sunday, July 14, 2019
We have been on this sermon series about Life’s Hurts, Habits and Hang-up and their Healing Choices. Today, we talk about Maintaining Momentum. In other words: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
Let’s review the principles:
Celebrate Recovery’s Eight Recovery Principles
The Road to Recovery Based on the Beatitudes
1. Realize I’m not God; I admit that I am powerless to control my tendency to do the wrong thing and that my life is unmanageable. (Step 1 of the 12 step method)
2. Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2 of the 12 step method)
3. Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3 of the 12 step method)
4. Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5 of the 12 step method)
5. Voluntarily submit to any and all changes God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7 of the 12 step method)
6. Evaluate all my relationships. Offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others when possible, except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9 of the 12 step method)
7. Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11 of the 12 step method)
8. Yield myself to God to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and my words. (Step 12 of the 12 step method)
We are now on step 7:
Reserve a daily time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and to gain the power to follow His will. (Steps 10 and 11 of the 12 step method)
My theme today is: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
Focus on your relationship with the Lord, Swindoll shares:
I love the story of the man who had fretted for fifteen years over his work. He had built his business from nothing into a rather sizable operation. In fact, he had a large plant that covered several acres. With growth and success, however, came ever-increasing demands. Each new day brought a whole new list of responsibilities. Weary of the worry, the stress, and the fear, he finally decided to give it all over to God. With a smile of quiet contentment, he prayed, “Lord God, the business is Yours. All the worry, the stress, and the fears I release to You and Your sovereign will. From this day forward, Lord, You own this business.” That night he went to bed earlier than he had since he started the business. Finally . . . peace.
In the middle of the night the shrill ring of the phone awoke the man. The caller, in a panicked voice, yelled, “Fire! The entire place is going up in smoke!” The man calmly dressed, got into his car and drove to the plant. With his hands in his pockets he stood there and watched, smiling slightly. One of his employees hurried to his side and said, “What in the world are you smiling about? How can you be so calm? Everything’s on fire!” The man answered, “Yesterday afternoon I gave this business to God. I told Him it was His. If He wants to burn it up, that’s His business.”
Some of you read that and think, That’s insane! No, that is one of the greatest pieces of sound theology you can embrace. Firm confidence in God means that it is in His hands.
Let’s read Mark 1:35:
In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
This sermon is about maintaining momentum. I am going to get into spiritual disciplines in a moment, but first let’s talk about why we lose momentum in battling our hurts, habits and hang-ups. Maybe you are doing very well battling your anxiety, depression, anger, pornography, chemical addiction, eating disorder or something else and then you backslide. Let’s talk about that. This first point and its sub-points comes from the book: “Life’s Healing Choices Revised and Updated: Freedom from Your Hurts, Hang-ups, and Habits” as noted in the footnote. I have made minor changes or additions.
- I. Many times, what I might call a “backslide” is called “Relapse.”
- The pattern is as follows: Complacency- Confusion-Compromise-Catastrophe.
- We get complacent in our spiritual disciplines and complacent in taking our hurt, habit or hang-up seriously and this is the first step to our downfall.
- We get confused thinking we are okay and our hurt, habit or hang-up was not that severe.
- We compromise our values.
- We relapse, we backslide.
- The causes of relapse.
- We revert to our own willpower. We think we can live the Christian life on our own strength. Romans 7 and Gal. 3:3 are written about that.
- The Bible speaks to our foolish tendencies of trying to make it on our own: We got off to a good start:
- In Choice 1, we admitted that we are powerless to change on our own.
- In Choice 2, we agreed that only God has the power to help us change.
- In Choice 3, we made a commitment to turn our life and will over to Christ’s care and control.
- In the fourth choice, we examined ourselves openly and honestly and confessed our faults.
- In the fifth, we voluntarily submitted to the changes God wants to make in our lives.
- Then in the last choice, our sixth choice, we focused on repairing our relationships—offering forgiveness and making amends.
- We’ve submitted, trusted, and committed. We’ve made room for God to make major changes in our life. But now, if we’re not careful, we may start to think, “It’s me doing this; I’m making the changes. It’s my power.” We revert to relying on our own willpower; but the problem is, it didn’t work in the first place, and it’s not going to work now! We have a few successes, and suddenly we think we are all-powerful and all-knowing, and can handle everything on our own.
- Other reasons we backslide or relapse: We ignore one of the choices.
- We try to recover without support (Ecc. 4:9-10; Heb 10:25). We need community.
- We become prideful (Prov. 16:18; 1 Cor. 10:12).
- I repeat my theme: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
- Jesus wants to give us peace, but this only happens through our relationship with Him. Swindoll shares in his book, “Laugh Again”: I came across a story in one of Tim Hansel’s books that points this out in an unforgettable way. It’s the true account of an eighty-two-year-old man who had served as a pastor for over fifty of those years. In his later years he struggled with skin cancer. It was so bad that he had already had fifteen skin operations. Tim writes:
Besides suffering from the pain, he was so embarrassed about how the cancer had scarred his appearance, that he wouldn’t go out. Then one day he was given You Gotta Keep Dancin’ in which I tell of my long struggle with the chronic, intense pain from a near-fatal climbing accident. In that book, I told of the day when I realized that the pain would be with me forever. At that moment, I made a pivotal decision. I knew that it was up to me to choose how I responded to it. So I chose joy. . . . After reading awhile, the elderly pastor said he put the book down, thinking, “He’s crazy. I can’t choose joy.”
So he gave up on the idea. Then later he read in John 15:11 that joy is a gift. Jesus says, “I want to give you my joy so that your joy may be complete.”
A gift! he thought. He didn’t know what to do, so he got down on his knees. Then he didn’t know what to say, so he said, “Well, then, Lord, give it to me. ”
And suddenly, as he described it, this incredible hunk of joy came from heaven and landed on him.
“I was overwhelmed,” he wrote. “It was like the joy talked about in Peter, a ‘ joy unspeakable and full of glory.’ I didn’t know what to say, so I said, ‘ Turn it on, Lord, turn it on!’” And before he knew it, he was dancing around the house. He felt so joyful that he actually felt born again—again. And this astonishing change happened at the age of 82.
He just had to get out. So much joy couldn’t stay cooped up.
So he went out to the local fast food restaurant and got a burger.
A lady saw how happy he was, and asked, “How are you doing?” He said, “Oh, I’m wonderful!” “Is it your birthday?” she asked. “No, honey, it’s better than that!” “Your anniversary?” “Better than that!” “Well, what is it?” she asked excitedly. “It’s the joy of Jesus. Do you know what I’m talking about?” The lady shrugged and answered, “No, I have to work on Sundays.”
II. Spiritual Disciplines are the way to maintain momentum
a. John Baker writes: Developing new habits is not easy. New healthy habits are about making daily choices that put us in a place where God can begin His transformation work in us. Someone has accurately said that the most difficult thing about the Christian life is that it is so daily. Jesus knew about daily temptation, and He knew how to fight it: “Keep watching and praying that you may not come into temptation; the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak” (Mark 14:38).
b. Prayer and meditation are reverse worry. I like that, let me repeat, prayer and meditation are reverse worry. If you know how to worry then you know how to pray and meditate on the Scriptures. This is part of your spiritual disciplines. So, let’s talk about daily quiet time. Let’s talk about spiritual disciplines.
III. Quiet time is most important. We had read Mark 1:35, let’s come back to that: In the early morning, while it was still dark, Jesus got up, left the house, and went away to a secluded place, and was praying there.
a. Jesus could have had many other things to do, but He started with prayer.
b. In that same chapter Jesus was preaching, casting out demons and healing people.
c. Many people could have said that Jesus should be doing more preaching, not retreating to a quiet place with God.
d. Many people could have said Jesus should be casting out more demons, not retreating to a quiet place with God.
e. Many people could have said Jesus should be healing people, not retreating to a quiet place with God.
f. Preaching, casting out demons and healing were all important, but not the MOST important thing for Jesus.
g. It was most important to have a quiet time with God the Father.
h. I repeat my theme: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
IV. Why do we have a daily quiet time?
a. Remember Mark 1:35, this is what Jesus did. If Jesus spent time with God, so should we.
b. We discover God’s will and receive power to deal with life’s trials through spending time with God. Let’s look at a few other passages.
c. Romans 12:1-2: Therefore I urge you, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your spiritual service of worship. 2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, so that you may prove what the will of God is, that which is good and acceptable and perfect.
d. We are to be transformed by the renewing of our mind. How do we renew our mind? We let the Holy Spirit renew our mind through spending time with Him in prayer and Scripture reading.
e. This happens through our quiet time with God. Ephesians 3:16: that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man…
f. How can we be strengthened with power through the Spirit?
g. This happens through spending time with Him in prayers and Scripture reading.
h. In John 6:63 Jesus said: It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh profits nothing; the words that I have spoken to you are spirit and are life.
i. So, in our quiet time we receive encouragement and life from our maker.
j. In John 10:27 Jesus said: My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me…
k. How do we know His voice?
l. By spending time with Him in prayer and Scripture reading.
m. I repeat my theme: We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
n. I encourage you to have a daily appointment with God.
o. This could be every morning first thing, or it could be in the evening.
p. Try to find a quiet place.
q. Try to limit distractions.
r. How long?
i. Start short.
ii. 5 minutes to read a chapter of the Bible and pray. I would pray in the beginning and the end.
t. Bible reading (full chapters). Begin in John.
u. Scripture applications.
v. Prayer; talk to Him as a best friend, He is.
i. Reflect on how you are doing. The Bible tells us to do this. See 2 Cor. 13:5 and Psalm 66:18. Repent of sins.
ii. Meet with your prayer/accountability partner regularly. We have individual spiritual disciplines, which this has mainly been about, and community spiritual disciplines. They are both critical.
To explain how Scripture meditation goes beyond hearing, reading, studying, and even memorizing as a means of taking in God’s Word, author Donald Whitney provides the analogy of a cup of tea:
In this analogy your mind is the cup of hot water and the tea bag represents your intake of Scripture. Hearing God’s Word is like one dip of the tea bag into the cup. Some of the tea’s flavor is absorbed by the water, but not as much as would occur with a more thorough soaking of the bag. Reading, studying, and memorizing God’s Word are like additional plunges of the tea bag into the cup. The more frequently the tea enters the water, the more permeating its effect. Meditation, however, is like immersing the bag completely and letting it steep until all the rich tea flavor has been extracted and the hot water is thoroughly tinctured reddish brown. Meditation on Scripture is letting the Bible brew in the brain. Thus we might say that as the tea colors the water, meditation likewise “colors” our thinking. When we meditate on Scripture it colors our thinking about God, about God’s ways and his world, and about ourselves.
We maintain momentum by maintaining our relationship with the Lord.
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