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Bible Sanctification - "The Progressive Work of a Lifetime"

Prayer & Meditation

Step 11: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."

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That Sweet Hour of Prayer

"... Morning by morning he wakens me and opens my understanding to his will." (Isaiah 50:4) One of the greatest factors in my recovery process has been in allowing God to wake me in the morning to spend time with Him in prayer and meditation.
I didn't write this, but I wish I did, because it really expresses how I feel about "that sweet hour of prayer":
"In humble abandon, I come to the throne,
bringing my joy and my care,
seeking the heart of my Savior alone,
in that sweet hour of prayer.
Turning my heart from the charms of this life,
nothing could ever compare
to meeting the Father by faith drawing nigh,
in that sweet hour of prayer.
In that sweet hour of prayer,
knowing my Jesus is there;
the treasures of Heaven lay open and bare,
in that sweet hour of prayer
such a sweet hour of prayer.
Let us not become weary in trusting His way,
given to doubt and despair.
We can find strength and courage for each day,
in that sweet sweet hour of prayer."
(by Dick and Melodie Tunney)
Without this daily communion with my Savior, Lord and Friend, life is much more stressful and I am much more prone to fall to temptation. But when I start my day with God, and as I continue to seek Him and His will for me throughout the day, He gives me wisdom (James 1:5-7) and courage to deal with the challenges of each moment.

Quiet Communion With God

"All who are under the training of God need the quiet hour for communion with their own hearts, with nature, and with God. In them is to be revealed a life that is not in harmony with the world, its customs, or its practices; and they need to have a personal experience in obtaining a knowledge of the will of God. We must individually hear Him speaking to the heart. When every other voice is hushed, and in quietness we wait before Him, the silence of the soul makes more distinct the voice of God." Ministry of Healing, p. 58
In my life, it is very easy to let all my busyness -- work, family, ministry, and more -- crowd out "the quiet hour for communion with ... God". It is easy to forget that it is actually in my best interest, both long-term as well as short-term, to spend this time in contemplation of my standing with God and with those near me. But my days are always better when I get up in time to spend the time I need in quiet communion with God -- reading His Holy Word, praying, seeking His will, and listening for His still, small voice. When I start the day with God, it seems like I stay closer to Him all through the day. Not only is this good for me, but it is good for those around me as well because I'm more likely listen to God's leading and follow in His ways.
I want God "to will and to do of his good pleasure" (Philippians 2:13) in my life, but I must remember that He will not do that against my poor choices. I must continually choose to accept the choices of His "good pleasure". I must continually choose to trust and obey His leading. It is then that He steps in and makes it all happen in ways that I have no power to do. Praise God! All of this is much more likely when I start the day in His hands.
"Now our Lord Jesus Christ himself, and God, even our Father, which hath loved us, and hath given us everlasting consolation and good hope through grace, Comfort your hearts, and stablish you in every good word and work." (2 Thessalonians 2:16,17)

Liberty

Webster defines "liberty" as "the quality or state of being free: the power to do as one pleases..., the power of choice".
In my carnal nature, I lacked liberty. My power of choice was diminished by the bad habits I had cultivated. Thankfully, God provided a way to restore my liberty, and yours. The apostle Paul taught that we all can "... be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God." (Romans 8:21)
Jesus, quoting Isaiah 61:1 and applying it to Himself, said, "... Jehovah hath anointed me to preach good tidings unto the meek; he hath sent me to bind up the broken-hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to them that are bound;" (Isaiah 61:1).
As we learn to trust God to lead us in the way that we would choose for ourselves if we could see the end from the beginning, more and more we seek only His will for our lives and trust Him implicitly to provide the power to do as He asks. As a result, captivity to our old faults is diminished and our liberty increases. Our power of choice is strengthened, for our good and for the good of those close to us.
"Now the Lord is that Spirit: and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty. But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord." (2 Corinthians 3:17,18).
"But take heed lest by any means this liberty of yours become a stumblingblock to them that are weak." (1 Corinthians 8:9)

Partaking of the Divine Nature

As I search for God's will for my life, my first consideration is the ten commandments (Exodus 20:1-20). Then I recall that, "... this is the will of God, even [my] sanctification..." (1 Thessalonians 4:3). More specifically, the apostle Paul tells me that God's will is that I should be transformed by the renewing of my mind (Romans 12:2), and that I should do the will of God from my heart (Ephesians 6:6). He also said that, no matter what happens, I should give thanks, because that's God's will (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
I really want to do God's will because "he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever" (1 John 2:17) and because Jesus said, "For whosoever shall do the will of God, the same is my brother, and my sister, and mother." (Mark 3:35). I want to be tight with Jesus. I want to do His will. I want to be transformed/sanctified. But, can I actually accomplish this? A short answer was given when, "Jesus said unto him, If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth." (Mark 9:23).
So, I must ask myself: How great is my trust in God? Will I trust Him enough to choose to do His will, even when it seems impossible? Do I really believe in His great and precious promises?
"Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord, According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue: Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust." (2 Peter 1:2-4)
Did you catch that? We can "be partakers of the divine nature"! Isn't that amazing?!
"There hath no temptation taken you but such as is common to man: but God is faithful, who will not suffer you to be tempted above that ye are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that ye may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13)
"I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:13)
As I continue to search for God's will for my life, and the power to carry that out, once again I come back to surrender -- I want to die to self and be alive to God. I think Paul said it best, when he said:
"I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me." (Galatians 2:20)
Is it possible to do God's will -- all the time? With all the evidence given me in Holy Scripture, I must answer "Yes". My ability to do God's will is directly proportional to how much I empty my life of "self", because that's just how much He can fill me with His sweet Holy Spirit. That's how much He can "will and to do of his good pleasure" in my life (Philippians 2:13).

Anxious for Nothing

"In nothing be anxious; but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God." (Philippians 4:6)
It's tempting for me to be anxious when life gets hard, forgetting that no matter how hard it gets, God is still there for me. I must remind myself that "... God is faithful, who will not suffer you [or me] to be tempted above that [we] are able; but will with the temptation also make a way to escape, that [we] may be able to bear it." (1 Corinthians 10:13).
It's easy for me to get anxious about all the things I think I need to do. But am I seeking God's will as to what HE would have me to do? Maybe I'm taking on more than what He has directed me to do.
Whenever I humbly seek God in prayer -- letting my concerns be known to Him, surrendering my anxiousness to Him, and seeking His will for me -- He gives me wisdom. "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking." (James 1:5)."And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7)
The Father's presence encircled Christ, and nothing befell Him but that which infinite love permitted for the blessing of the world. Here was His source of comfort, and it is for us. He who is imbued with the Spirit of Christ abides in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Saviour, who surrounds him with His presence. Whatever comes to him comes from Christ. He has no need to resist evil, for Christ is his defense. Nothing can touch him except by our Lord's permission, and "all things" that are permitted "work together for good to them that love God." (Romans 8:28). {Thoughts from the Mount of Blessing 71}
For these things, and so much more, especially the infinite sacrifice that Jesus made to save me, I am eternally grateful to God. So, when life gets tough, and when life gets hectic, I must look to the author of my eternal salvation (Hebrews 5:9), and focus on the best things...
"Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things." (Philippians 4:8)

Seeking God

"...he who comes to God must believe that he is, and that he rewards them that diligently seek him." (Hebrews 11:6)
For me, it is relatively easy to have faith in the word of God, as expressed in the Bible. I grew up with the Bible and believe that it's writings are inspired by God. But where it's harder to have faith is when the "rubber hits the road", so to speak. When life gets hard; when bad things happen; when my will is crossed; those are the times when faith becomes more of a challenge. Those are the times when my trust in God and His Holy Word is tested.
It is vital for me to diligently seek God. You see, if I have not been improving upon my "conscious contact with God" by regularly spending time in prayer, and Bible study, then my faith becomes weak in challenging times. But, If I have been spending quality time with God, then my faith is stronger. I'm much more likely to trust God when trouble comes. I'm much more likely to hear His promptings and to "die to self", choosing to follow His leading.
There is a lot of talk these days about relationship, and I need a saving relationship with God. But some of the talk in Christian circles tends to minimize the role of the Bible (particularly the Ten Commandments) and denies the existence of satan and his host of evil angels. Of course if there were no tempter, things would be different. But, since there is, it is difficult for me to always know which voice is speaking to me. It could be the voice of God, but it could also be the voice of evil angels telling me things that sound pleasing. Or, it could also be the voice of my own thoughts and feelings, based on my learning history. Because of this, it is VITAL for me to be grounded in the Word of God. The Bible is the only place I can be sure to find truth. Maybe that's why the apostle Paul said, "Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth." (2 Timothy 2:15).
Continuing in this kind of saving relationship with God involves choices that go against what I want to do or say, but God is faithful to give us what it takes to make good choices (1 Corinthians 10:13). And when we follow through, making those hard decisions to follow God's leading, it is our privilege to enter into the peace that only God can give. "And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:7). And, in times of trouble, what could be better than that?

A Still Small Voice

"... Jehovah passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and brake in pieces the rocks before Jehovah; but Jehovah was not in the wind: and after the wind an earthquake; but Jehovah was not in the earthquake: 12 and after the earthquake a fire; but Jehovah was not in the fire: and after the fire a still small voice. 13 And it was so, when Elijah heard it, that he wrapped his face in his mantle, and went out, and stood in the entrance of the cave. And, behold, there came a voice unto him, and said, What doest thou here, Elijah?(1 Kings 19:11-13)
Many times I have wished that God would communicate to me in a strong voice, like a mighty wind, clearly stating His will for me, laying out a master plan that I could follow for years to come. But I don't hear Him speaking to me in that way. The closest to that is what I "hear" from His Holy Word. He provides me with a huge amount of instruction in the Bible, for which I'm thankful.
But what about that "still small voice" of Jehovah? Every day, there are times when a thought will pop into my mind, and I wonder, "where did that come from?". Sometimes, I recognize it as a temptation. But, often it seems to be the "still small voice" of God, saying, "This is the way, walk ye in it" (Isaiah 30:21). I'm trying hard to recognize that voice, in the midst of so many others. Sometimes it comes as a result of my prayer, asking for wisdom (James 1:5). Even then, it could be a long time afterward that I remember, "oh yeah, a while after I asked for wisdom, I got an idea that helped me solve that problem. Thank you Father! Thank you Jesus!"
Other times, it comes without my asking. One day, many years ago, when I was taking our burnable trash to our wood-fired boiler, some papers on the top caught my attention, and that "still small voice" prompted me to look more carefully at those papers and ask around to make sure they were to be burned. I'm sorry to say that I dismissed that thought, and put them in the fire anyway. Later, I discovered that one of those papers was homework that my son hadn't yet turned in. God cares about the little things as well as the big. I read somewhere that Jesus "is ever sending messages" to those who will listen. I must be intentional about carefully listening for the voice of God.
Sometimes I wish that God was more pushy with his directives, but more and more I realize that God has a great deal of respect for our freedom of choice -- even when we make the wrong choice. Maybe that's why He says, "Come now, and let us reason together..." (Isaiah 1:18).
"The Lord[Jehovah] says, 'I will guide you along the best pathway for your life. I will advise you and watch over you. Do not be like a senseless horse or mule that needs a bit and bridle to keep it under control.' Many sorrows come to the wicked, but unfailing love surrounds those who trust the Lord. So rejoice in the Lord[Jehovah] and be glad, all you who obey him! Shout for joy, all you whose hearts are pure!" (Psalm 32:8-11)

A Journey

"Blessed is the man whose strength is in thee; In whose heart are the highways to Zion. 6 Passing through the valley of Weeping they make it a place of springs; Yea, the early rain covereth it with blessings. 7 They go from strength to strength; Every one of them appeareth before God in Zion. 8 O Jehovah God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob. Selah" (Psalms 84:5-8)
Life is a journey. Sometimes we have mountaintop experiences and other times, we are in the valley of despair. But I've found that through it all, as I choose to trust in God, that all things work together for good (Romans 8:28). It's great to have the mountaintop experiences, but it's in times of trouble that I lean on Him most heavily. It's in times of trouble that I see Him working most in my life to bring me to a better place. And it's in trusting and obeying Him in those hard times that helps to build my character to become more like Jesus.
"For a day in thy courts is better than a thousand. I had rather be a doorkeeper in the house of my God, Than to dwell in the tents of wickedness. For Jehovah God is a sun and a shield: Jehovah will give grace and glory; No good thing will he withhold from them that walk uprightly. O Jehovah of hosts, Blessed is the man that trusteth in thee." (Psalms 84:10-12)
Sometimes God's blessings are disguised as trouble and trials, but He is always close by, providing a shield to protect us against more than we can handle (1 Cor 10:13). As a result, we come out of trouble a better person than before. Even though I often don't understand now, I believe that I would not choose to be led by God any differently than He leads me now, if I could see the end from the beginning, as He does.

My Father's Love Letter

My Child...
You may not know me, but I know everything about you (Psalm 139:1). I know when you sit down and when you rise up (Psalm 139:2). I am familiar with all your ways (Psalm 139:3). I even number the very hairs on your head (Matthew 10:29-31), for you were made in my image (Genesis 1:27).
In me you live and move and have your being, for you are my offspring (Acts 17:28). I knew you even before you were conceived (Jeremiah 1:4-5). I chose you when I planned creation (Ephesians 1:11-12). I determined the exact time of your birth and where you would live (Acts 17:26). You are fearfully and wonderfully made (Psalm 139:14). I knit you together in your mother's womb. (Psalm 139:13) and brought you forth on the day you were born (Psalm 71:6).
I have been misrepresented by those who don't know me (John 8:41-44), but I am not distant and angry. I am the complete expression of love (1 John 4:16) and it is my desire to lavish my love on you simply because you are my child and I am your father (1 John 3:1).
I offer you more than your earthly father ever could (Matthew 7:11) for I am the perfect father (Matthew 5:48). Every good gift that you receive comes from my hand (James 1:17), for I am your provider and I meet all your needs (Matthew 6:31-33).
My plan for your future has always been filled with hope (Jeremiah 29:11), because I love you with an everlasting love (Jeremiah 31:3). My thoughts toward you are as countless as the sand on the seashore (Psalm 139:17-18) and I rejoice over you with singing (Zephaniah 3:17).
I will never stop doing good things for you (Jeremiah 32:40), for you are my treasured possession (Exodus 19:5). I desire to establish you with all my heart and all my soul (Jeremiah 32:41) and I want to show you great and marvelous things (Jeremiah 33:3).
If you seek for me with all your heart, you will find me (Deuteronomy 4:29). Delight in me and I will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4), for it is I who gave you those desires (Philippians 2:13).
I am able to do more for you than you could possibly imagine (Ephesians 3:20) for I am your greatest encourager (2 Thessalonians 2:16-17). I am also the Father who comforts you in all your troubles (2 Corinthians 1:3-4). When you are brokenhearted, I am close to you (Psalm 34:18). As a shepherd carries a lamb, I have carried you close to my heart (Isaiah 40:11).
One day I will wipe away every tear from your eyes and I'll take away all the pain you have suffered on this earth (Revelation 21:3-4).
I am your Father, and I love you even as I love my son Jesus (John 17:23), for in Jesus, my love for you is revealed (John 17:26). He is the exact representation of my being (Hebrews 1:3). He came to demonstrate that I am for you, not against you (Romans 8:31) and to tell you that I am not counting your sins (2 Corinthians 5:18-19).
Jesus died so that you could be reconciled to me(2 Corinthians 5:18-19). His death was the ultimate expression of my love for you (1 John 4:10). I gave up everything I loved that I might gain your love (Romans 8:31-32). If you receive the gift of my son Jesus, you receive me (1 John 2:23) and nothing will ever separate you from my love again (Romans 8:38-39).
Come home and I'll throw the biggest party heaven has ever seen (Luke 15:7). I have always been Father, and will always be Father (Ephesians 3:14-15). My question is this: "Will you be my child?" (John 1:12-13). I am waiting for you (Luke 15:11-32).
Love, Abba, Father and My beloved Son, Jesus Christ.
-Anonymously compiled

"What would you have me to do?"

I have discovered that prayer, meditation, and a conscious contact with God need not end with my morning devotions. More and more in my work and relationships I realize the value of continuing to seek the will of God, as I make the many choices that each day requires. So today I'd like to share some practical ways in which I maintain contact with God and seek His will in my daily life.
In my work, I often find myself stuck trying to resolve a seemingly insurmountable problem. In times like this, I claim the promise, "If you need wisdom, ask our generous God, and he will give it to you. He will not rebuke you for asking" (James 1:5). Then, like Saul in his hour of calamity, I pray, "... Lord, what would you have me to do? ..." (Acts 9:6). Then, as I think through that problem again, the solutions eventually begin to come. I don't always realize it at first, but later, it occurs to me that my prayers were answered. That's when I praise God and give Him thanks and honor.
In my relationships, things always go better when, rather than venting my frustrations (or stuffing them), I surrender myself to God and ask for wisdom and strength to make better choices in dealing with difficult situations. A good example of this is that day when I received a "Rude Email"...
I invite you today, to claim the promises of God, as you surrender your heart to Him and see for yourself just how much better your day will go. May God richly bless you, is my prayer, in Jesus name, amen.

Never Thirst Again

Like most people, I have thirsted for love, security, self-worth, success, and peace. But, I sought to quench that thirst by looking for these things in all the wrong places.
I drank of self-gratification, but only thirsted for more...
Now as I deny myself, I find self-worth.
I drank of worldly success, but only thirsted for more...
Now as I give for the benefit of others I find true success.
I drank of inappropriate relationships, but only thirsted for more...
Now as I build healthy relationships, I find love.
I drank of the control of myself and others, but only thirsted for more...
Now as I relinquish my "throne" to the Creator, I find peace.
I drank of the accumulation of stuff, but only thirsted for more...
Now as I -- through prayer and meditation -- seek God, I find security.
The deepest thirsting of my soul is quenched by my gracious, loving Lord and Savior, who said: "Anyone who drinks this water will soon become thirsty again. But those who drink the water I give will never be thirsty again. It becomes a fresh, bubbling spring within them, giving them eternal life" (John 4:13-14). Praise God, from Whom all blessings flow!

To become like Jesus

"Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly" (Colossians 3:16).
"... Lord, what would you have me to do? ..." (Acts 9:6).
As we meditate upon the perfections of the Saviour,
we shall desire to be wholly transformed
and renewed in the image of His purity.
There will be a hungering and thirsting of soul
to become like Him whom we adore.
(Steps to Christ, 89)

The times of prayer and meditation in my own experience have been (and continue to be) a blessing to me throughout my recovery process. It's a time when I process my thoughts and feelings with God and seek to understand what His will is for me in my life today. It's a time for me to study and seek to understand the writings of inspired writers. It's a time for me to ask God if there are any sins that I have neglected to confess. And, it's a time for me to dwell on the incredible work that Jesus has done and is doing on my behalf.
I invite you to join me in a commitment to more deeply enter into the process of prayer and meditation.

Going Deeper With God

"Lord, what would you have me to do?" (Acts 9:6)
Early in our recovery process, we tend to rely heavily on our group, our sponsor and/or trusted friends. But as we progress, be begin to become more comfortable with God, understanding that He truly is the loving Heavenly Father that we long to be with.
More and more, we choose special time with God, getting to know and love Him more deeply. We progressively learn that He can be trusted to be the ruler of our lives. As He gives us direction, we realize that He has our best interest in mind. As we trust Him more fully, we pray more for wisdom and understanding (James 1:5,6) of His will for us (Acts 9:6), realizing that He will provide a way for us to do what He asks (1 Cor 10:13).
Often, through prayer and meditation, I ask for God's will concerning decisions I need to make, problems I need to solve, or directions for my life. Often, it takes some time to understand His leading, but He always comes through. Sometimes, I don't know how I will be able to do it, but I trust that "Whatever is to be done at His command may be accomplished in His strength. All His biddings are enablings. {Christ's Object Lessons 333.1}
"And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me." (2 Cor 12:9)
Step 11: "Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out."