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Bible Sanctification - "The Progressive Work of a Lifetime"

God Can...

Step 2: "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."

Why I Believe

I came to believe that my higher power, God the Father through Jesus Christ, not only could restore me to sanity, but longs to do that good work in me. Here are some reasons why:

"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 1:4).

No Atheists in Foxholes

It's been said that "there are no atheists in foxholes". As we begin to recognize our own powerlessness, as we hide in our "foxholes" from facing the "war" against the evil that so easily besets us (Hebrews 12:1), we begin to realize that there must be a power greater than ourselves that can deliver us, because these battles are just too great for us to be able to fight them on our own.
I think that the God of creation put within us a desire, and a need, to fellowship with Him and to reverence Him as our Lord and Savior, because He is the only God that can bring us true happiness. The trouble is that we tend to look to fill that most basic of all human needs with other gods. Since the God of creation is not a god of control, he lets us make those choices to follow other gods. But those gods do try to control us -- to remove our freedom of choice. Consequentially, we find ourselves in behaviors that become habits that often lead to addictions -- things that forcibly control our lives.
I believe that only the God of creation, the Almighty God of the universe, is able to deliver us from those little gods that forcibly control our lives -- those little gods that force us into our "foxholes" of isolation. Friends, He is able. Yes He is able to do infinitely more than we can even imagine to restore us to sanity.
Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen. (Ephesians 3:20-21)

Help My Unbelief

The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, ... but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish... (2 Peter 3:9).
Early on in our recovery process, like the father who cried out, "Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief" (Mark 9:24), we begin to realize that there is a higher power that is willing (2 Peter 3:9) and able (Ephesians 3:20) to deliver us from our dysfunction.
This may not be the god of our fathers. This God may not even be recognizable by most Christians. When abused by so-called Christians, many look away from Christianity to find a loving Higher Power. In many cases, I believe they find the same (one and only) true God -- just by a different name.
What ever we call our loving Higher Power, we find in this Power a willingness to deliver us from our sins (Matthew 1:21), which bring us so much pain.

The Just Judge

It is the spirit that quickeneth; the flesh profiteth nothing: the words that I speak unto you, they are spirit, and they are life. (John 6:63)
Addiction and codependency are sometimes defined as an unhealthy reliance on the control of people and/or things, for the purpose of satisfying our deepest spiritual and emotional needs. Instead, I choose to look to a Loving higher power, outside of myself, to fulfill my needs.
However, my tendency is to want to stand as judge and jury, really putting myself in the place of God, as I react to those around me. It's easy to get caught up in this grandiose thinking. But then I remember that I am powerless, without God (John 15:5). Then I remember all the times where my faulty wisdom has made choices that I will always regret. Then I consider Job, who was much more wise than I, when God rebuked him in his grandiosity (Job 38:1-41).
Then I realize that my judgments are not always just, but The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: (2 Peter 2:9). And, I remember that only God's judgments are just (John 5:30).
So, rather than continuing to blame others for my problems, I choose to surrender my judgmental feelings to the only just judge, and rely on Him to restore me to sanity.

Who, Or What, Do I Worship?

There seems to be something about the way that we humans are made that causes us to need to worship (love, admire, pay homage to) someone or some thing. Unfortunately, we tend to try to fill that need with things we can see, or make ourselves. Of course this is nothing new. You probably remember what the children of Israel did when Moses left them for awhile to be with God: "... they forsook all the commandments of Jehovah their God, and made them molten images, even two calves, and made an Asherah, and worshipped all the host of heaven, and served Baal." (2 Kings 17:16). I'm not so sure that we are much different today.
In this age of advanced technology, we may worship some of the things that it brings us over the Internet, such as shopping, gaming, porn, etc... Or, maybe we worship the things that tend to accumulate over time. Really, it could be anything.
For some, it maybe another human that we worship. It could be that special someone that we spend a great deal of time with. For others, it could be a charismatic pastor that we give our homage to.
Really, the list of people or things that we put in the place of God is endless. The problem is that none of this fills our need of worship anywhere near as well as does our Creator. "And the people believed: and when they heard that Jehovah had visited the children of Israel, and that he had seen their affliction, then they bowed their heads and worshipped." (Exodus 4:31)
Likewise, as I remember the incredible love of God for me, how He paid the price of death for my sins, and how He has looked upon the affliction of my dependencies, how He provides for all of my needs, I am reminded that only Father Jehovah and His "beloved Son", Jesus Christ are worthy of my worship.

Extreme Trust

26-year-old Nancy's life was fast falling apart when she approached Pastor Frank. For 3 days in a row, Nancy kept coming back and pouring out all her troubles. Despite the previous attempts of several marriage counselors, her marriage was failing. She had her baby girl with her as she pleaded for help. This baby was Nancy and her husband's final attempt to restore their marriage, but it wasn't working. Eventually, Pastor Frank said, "Nancy, here is something that could help." He handed her this quote(parenthetical comments added by Sid):
"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 [so] it is for us. He who is imbued (permeated or saturated) with the Spirit of Christ, abides (dwells, rests, continues, stands firm) in Christ. The blow that is aimed at him falls upon the Savior, who surrounds him with His presence (hugged by Jesus). 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 p71)
The following day, Nancy returned to see the pastor, along with her non-Christian husband. Pastor Frank told them that if just one of them would follow these principal's their marriage could be saved and if both of them would do it they could have a relationship beyond what they thought was possible. Then he had prayer with them.
Nancy left with a firm commitment to accept everything that touched her life as coming from Christ. Her husband did not. In fact, he did everything he could to make her life a living hell. But Nancy remained committed to accept everything he dished out in a Christ-like manner. It took 3 months for his heart to soften then they began to enjoy a relationship that they previously thought was impossible. It was as if heaven had opened up in their lives.
One day Nancy and her husband decided to go sightseeing in the mountains and left the baby with her in-laws. Grandma laid the baby on the couch then sat down to read a book. Before long, they both fell asleep. When Grandma woke up, her granddaughter was eating the last of the pills that she had accidently left beside the couch. Grandma was paralyzed with fear, unable to do anything to help. When Nancy and her husband returned from their trip and entered the home, they quickly realized what had happened, picked up the pill bottle and the baby, who was now comatose, and rushed her to the emergency room. Within an hour the baby was dead.
The news spread quickly. Members of Nancy's church started coming to her home, offering their sympathies, which Nancy accepted. As a result, Nancy began to experience the same type of bitterness and resentment in her heart that she had experienced prior to meeting with Pastor Frank. It occurred to her that she had accepted everything that touched her life as coming from Christ, but not this. She went into her bedroom, fell to her knees, and confessed to God her lack of trust in Him. She was totally honest with God about her pain. She said, "I don't like or understand why this happened, but I do trust You, Father. You know what you are doing. Please help my lack of trust."
"They cannot be constantly upon their knees, but they can be uplifting their hearts to God. This is the way that Enoch walked with God... Those who are imbued with the Spirit of Christ, and who are walking with God, will have no unholy repining for sympathy. They have a companionship that satisfies every desire of the mind and heart..."-Ellen White, ST October 15, 1885, par. 5
A few minutes later, the doorbell rang - more church members coming to offer their sympathies. Nancy raised her hand and said I don't want to be rude or insensitive but I do not want your sympathies. I want you to understand that a year ago I gave my life and the life of my daughter to God. Please pray with me and praise God for working in our lives. Well, this same scenario played out a few more times, until word finally got out that Nancy did not want sympathy.
When Nancy's in-laws came for a visit, they told Nancy that they had been watching her over the last year and had witnessed an incredible change in her life. They had seen no resentment in her over the death of her baby, which they did not understand. They said, "If God can work a transformation in your life like this, we believe He can do it in us too, can we come to church with you?" A short time later they took their stand in baptism.
Not long after that, when Nancy's husband got home from work one day, he told Nancy that she was not the same girl that he had married. The change he had seen in her and his parents brought him conviction. He wanted the same experience. He too was later baptized as he began a born-again relationship with God.
Just as the sun of the daytime melts butter and hardens clay, so does the Spirit of the Son of God(Galatians 4:6) use the trials of this world to strengthen our character, as we let Him. The question is, "Do we have the kind of trust in God that melts us to surrender all to Him, truly believing and accepting that "Whatever comes to [us] comes from Christ"?
I wonder what difference it would have made if Nancy had made different choices?
I wonder what difference it would make if I were to always show extreme trust in God?
"Now unto him who is able to keep you from falling, and to present you faultless before the presence of his glory with exceeding joy, to the only wise God our Saviour, be glory, majesty, dominion, and power, both now and forever. Amen." (Jude 1:24-25)

That's My God!

I believe that there are only two great powers in the Universe. There's the power of good - the power of infinite, unimaginable love. This is the power that gives us humans the freedom of choice, as to whom we will serve. Then, there is the power of evil - unimaginable evil. This is the power that continually strives to enslave us through his deviant lies. We commonly refer to these two great powers as God and the enemy, or satan.
But there is a problem using the name God, when referring to this great and wonderful power of love. This is largely due to the fact that the vast majority of people who call themselves Christian exhibit behaviors that mirror the attitudes of the enemy -- behaviors that are far from being that of a loving, higher-power. I am qualified to speak of this, because, in so doing, I am speaking of myself. You see, I have been a "Christian" all my life. But, in spite of that, I've had all these deviant behaviors, and I'm quite sure that, as a result of this, I have turned many off to Christianity. So, what's with that? I went to church every weekend. I studied my Bible. I held offices in the church. Most people thought of me as a good Christian. I talked the "talk", but I sure didn't walk the "walk".
More recently, it has become clear to me that there are very few spiritual Christians in church -- any church. In fact, there is some pretty good evidence that there are more spiritual Christians outside of the church than there are on the inside. Now, I need to be very clear right now that I'm not speaking against belonging to a church. I love my church and I have no intention of leaving it.
My point is this: if you have been offended by so-called "Christians", as I have been, I want to apologize to you right now. As far as I know, I've not offended any of you, but I have offended many. And this, I deeply regret. So please, do not let evil behavior of carnal Christians skew your view of God. When I exhibit deviant behavior, I am NOT representing my Heavenly Father but rather the father of all evil -- satan himself. You see, satan would have us to believe that God is evil and he will go to any length to achieve his goals.
So, who is this God that I am learning to love more and more each passing day? It is my Heavenly Father and His "beloved Son, in whom [He is] well pleased"(Matthew3:17;17:5; Mark1:11;9:7; Luke3:22;9:35;20:13), Jesus Christ. Jesus left the place of infinite glory and power in the bosom of His Father(John 1:18) to become a tiny, helpless human infant in this horribly evil and primitive world. He grew to human manhood without using His Divine power to in anyway help His own human flesh. This Jesus can help me, because He was tempted in all points like as I am, while NEVER yielding to the constant temptations of satan. This is the Jesus, who in human flesh, admitted, that of Himself, He could do NOTHING(John 5:19,30;8:28). That's my Jesus! Jesus gives me courage to admit to myself, and others, that I can, of myself, do no good thing, without Jesus(John 15:5).
Jesus blessed and healed every honest soul who He came in contact with. Jesus allowed Himself to be falsely accused and beaten unmercifully without one word of complaint. Jesus, while being nailed to that old rugged cross, cried out, "Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do!" Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sins and yours, and then was raised again to newness of life, just as we have the privilege to do when we take up our cross and follow Him. That's my Jesus, the "only begotten Son of God"(John 1:18;3:18; 1John 4:9).
My Heavenly Father loves you and me with an everlasting, infinite love that we cannot even begin to fathom! Do you know His Son Jesus? Do you love my Jesus? In my carnal nature, I have sunk lower than a snake's belly and yet He has always been there for me with His unconditional love to pick me up and gently guide me from where I was to a better place. That's my Jesus!
If you have drifted away from God, do realize how easy it is to come back? Even if you've never given your heart to God, His arms are open wide right now to totally accept you as one of His chosen ones. All He needs is your heart. The Bible says, if you will confess your sins to Him that He will not only freely forgive you, but He will also cleanse you from all unrighteousness!(1John 1:9) This is justification - He wipes your record clean, just as if you had never sinned! He replaces your past, sinful record with Jesus' perfect record. He will give you a fresh, new start! Praise God!!
Continued in my Step 3 Post "Cooperation"...

Mighty in Battle

God says, "...My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in [your] weakness..." (2 Corinthians 12:9).
"Fear not... Let not your hands be slack. Jehovah your God, in the midst of thee, is mighty; he will save, he will rejoice over thee with joy; he will rest in his love, he will joy over thee with singing." (Zephaniah 3:16-17).
When under attack by the "roaring lion" who seeks to devour me, I not only see my own powerlessness, but I also see One that is mighty to deliver me. Hopelessness is being swallowed up by the blessed hope of a better life - a life of victory, where once was only defeat. If I put my full trust in God, will he really defeat the enemy, in my behalf? "Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time" (1 Peter 5:6).
"The weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God..." (2 Corinthians 10:4). "13 Wherefore take unto you the whole armor of God that ye may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand. 14 Stand therefore, having your loins girt about with truth, and having on the breastplate of righteousness; 15 and your feet shod with the preparation of the gospel of peace; 16 Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. 17 And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God: 18 Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication..." (Ephesians 6:13-18).
"... We give thee thanks, O LORD God Almighty, which art, and wast, and art to come; because thou hast taken to thee thy great power, and hast reigned" (Revelation 11:17).

Secret Fears About God

Have you ever been treated inappropriately by people who seem to be, or even claim to be, God's chosen vessels on Earth? What about the abusive parent who tried to put the "fear of god" into you? What about the look-good-on-the-outside church member who gossips behind your back about you? What about the church officer who won't help you in your time of need (Luke 10:30-32)? And, what about a church pastor who accuses you of the unpardonable sin because you question his theology?
Have you ever wondered why so many bad things happen to you? Have you asked, "Where was God when...?", or wonder, "Why did God let that happen to me?", or even dare to think, "Why did God do that to me?!" As a Christian, it may seem unthinkable to to voice these questions, but I have discovered that these concerns are common -- even among seemingly devout, church going, Christians.
It is a great temptation to distrust God when things like these happen. It's easy to start believing that God really doesn't care about "me". We may even come to believe that God is abusive. Because of this, Step 2 is a difficult step for many -- even for Christians.
Yet, we feel this great need for help and comfort from a power greater than ourselves. In Step one, we admitted that we were powerless and out-of-control. So now, we really need a greater power, who will restore us to sanity (Step 2). But, is the God of our understanding willing, or even able, to do that for us? Maybe not.
But wait. Is the God of our understanding really the true God of the Bible? Is it possible that the powers of evil have used their servants, masquerading as Christians, to convince us that God is evil?
If that is true, then one might ask, "Why doesn't God do something about it?" Why doesn't he step in and remove that pastor who teaches lies and makes false accusations? Why doesn't God stop the abusive parent from harming his/her children? Why doesn't He remove those unhelpful church officers from their positions? WHERE IS THE JUSTICE!! In considering possible answers to those questions, it may be helpful for us to look at a bigger, more encompassing, question: When Adam and Eve first sinned, why didn't God just wipe them out and start over again with me? Certainly I would have made better choices... or... would I?
More and more, I am coming to believe that God values our freedom of choice above most everything. I don't know about you, but I wouldn't want to serve a god who doesn't give me a choice as to whether I serve him or not. I am trying to see more of the big picture -- the great controversy between Christ with His angels and satan with his angels. It is satan and his servants that bring evil to us in this world. Those people who should be examples of God's love and mercy (professed Christians) are not choosing God's way when they abuse us. They are choosing to listen to another voice -- the voice of evil.
I shudder to think of how many times I have listened to the wrong voice and treated others in a less-than-Christian-like way. And, I am thankful that God does not strike me down for making bad choices. So, why do I want Him to do evil to other people who also make bad choices? That's just not God's way. "The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance." (2 Peter 3:9).
I must agree with Paul when he said, "Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me." (Philippians 4:11-13). I invite you to look, with me, at Psalms 23 where Father Jehovah promises to be with us in the "valley of the shadow of death" and where He promises to "prepare a table" for us in the presence of our enemies.
"Jehovah is my shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures; He leadeth me beside still waters. He restoreth my soul: He guideth me in the paths of righteousness for his name`s sake. Yea, thou I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil; for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies: Thou hast anointed my head with oil; My cup runneth over. Surely goodness and lovingkindness shall follow me all the days of my life; And I shall dwell in the house of Jehovah for ever. Psalm 24 A Psalm of David." (Psalms 23:1-6).
This is the God of my understanding -- a God of love and mercy. This is the God that is restoring me to sanity. This is the God I love. Won't you join me now in serving the true God of Love?

Abiding In The Vine

Jesus said (in John 15), 1-3 "I am the Real Vine and my Father is the Farmer. He cuts off every branch of me that doesn't bear grapes. And every branch that is grape-bearing he prunes back so it will bear even more. You are already pruned back by the message I have spoken.
4"Live in me. Make your home in me just as I do in you. In the same way that a branch can't bear grapes by itself but only by being joined to the vine, you can't bear fruit unless you are joined with me."
5-8"I am the Vine, you are the branches. When you're joined with me and I with you, the relation intimate and organic, the harvest is sure to be abundant. Separated, you can't produce a thing. Anyone who separates from me is deadwood, gathered up and thrown on the bonfire. But if you make yourselves at home with me and my words are at home in you, you can be sure that whatever you ask will be listened to and acted upon. This is how my Father shows who he is - when you produce grapes, when you mature as my disciples."
9-10"I've loved you the way my Father has loved me. Make yourselves at home in my love. If you keep my commands, you'll remain intimately at home in my love. That's what I've done - kept my Father's commands and made myself at home in his love."
11-15"I've told you these things for a purpose: that my joy might be your joy, and your joy wholly mature. This is my command: Love one another the way I loved you. This is the very best way to love. Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you. I'm no longer calling you servants because servants don't understand what their master is thinking and planning. No, I've named you friends because I've let you in on everything I've heard from the Father." (John 15:1-15) Quoted from "The Message" Bible.

Lord Have Mercy

"And, behold, two blind men sitting by the way side, when they heard that Jesus passed by, cried out, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And the multitude rebuked them, because they should hold their peace: but they cried the more, saying, Have mercy on us, O Lord, thou Son of David. And Jesus stood still, and called them, and said, What will ye that I shall do unto you? They say unto him, Lord, that our eyes may be opened. So Jesus had compassion on them, and touched their eyes: and immediately their eyes received sight, and they followed him." (Matthew 20:30-34)
Just as our gentle, loving Savior opened the eyes of these blind men, so does His amazing grace work in our hearts to restore us to sanity as we recognize our powerlessness and persistently pursue His healing touch. But, it is so often the case that we have not because we ask not (James 4:2). Jesus says, "ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full" (John 16:24). "For with God nothing shall be impossible." (Luke 1:37)
It is hard to admit my powerlessness and then humble myself further to ask for help from my Higher Power. My human tendency is to want to be the master of my own destiny. But, I've come to realize that this pompous attitude got me into my helpless state in the first place. So, it certainly is not going to save me now. It is only as I humbly submit myself to God -- seeking His will -- that I have any hope at all of restoration.
"Grace be to you and peace from God the Father, and from our Lord Jesus Christ, Who gave himself for our sins, that he might deliver us from this present evil world, according to the will of God and our Father: To whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen." (Galatians 1:3-5)

Sanity

Having been in recovery since 1994, I have to wonder if God has restored me to sanity yet. What exactly does it mean to be sane? It has oft been repeated that insanity is "Doing the same thing over and over again, expecting different results." I sure did a lot of that while practicing my addictions, but am I still living my life like that? By God's grace and power, I no longer practice my addictions, but does that make me sane?
Is there anyone that is sane that I can compare my life to? Well, there may be others, but the only person I know for sure that is sane is Jesus. And, when I compare my life with His, I come up wanting... So, does this mean that God hasn't restored me to sanity, as I hoped for?
I don't think sanity is like a light switch that's either on or off, but more like a light control that God turns (with our cooperation) from darkness to more and more light. When I look at it that way, I can honestly say that God is restoring me to sanity, and this is greatly encouraging :-) But, unlike the light control on my wall, God's "light control" has no limit as to the brightness of light (sanity) that can be dialed up.
So, am I sane or not? Maybe that's the wrong question. Maybe a better question would be, "Am I continually allowing God to turn up the "light" of my sanity?" When I look at it that way, I see that it's really about my own choices. God isn't the limiting factor. He's cranking that "light control" up, giving me as much "light" as I will accept. It's me that that limits the "light" of God's sanity in my life, by my poor choices. And it's me that allows God to improve my saneness, as I choose to trust and obey Him.
Even when I don't have the power to trust and obey, somehow God makes it all possible, as I choose to trust and obey Him. Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
"For God, who said, 'Let there be light in the darkness', has made this light shine in our hearts so we could know the glory of God that is seen in the face of Jesus Christ." "... if we are living in the light, as God is in the light, then we have fellowship with each other, and the blood of Jesus, his Son, cleanses us from all sin." (2Corinthians 4:6; 1 John 1:7)

Disconnect

In our early years, the only God we knew was our parents. Ideally, parents are servants of God and are godly role models for their children. But, all too often, this is not the case. Many children are seriously abused, even by parents who are professed Christians. As children, we could not readily discern whether our parents were following God, or not, in the way they treated us. In fact, our parents were as gods to us, when we were very young.
As a result, many have grown up with a skewed view of God. But it didn't end there. As we became older, we've seen other professed Christians acting in ways that that just didn't seem right. They may have even been abusive toward us. With all this evil coming at us from role-models that have largely formed our view of God, is it any wonder that so many have turned to gods other than the God of the Bible?
Many spend a lifetime searching for peace and joy in all the wrong places, because of a skewed view of the one and only God who can give them peace, joy, and a life of fulfillment -- the God of the Bible -- the God of true Christianity.
"But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus." (Philippians 4:19). He says, "... I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5). "For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, saith Jehovah, thoughts of peace, and not of evil, to give you hope in your latter end. And ye shall call upon me, and ye shall go and pray unto me, and I will hearken unto you. And ye shall seek me, and find me, when ye shall search for me with all your heart." (Jeremiah 29:11-13). "... and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world" (Matthew 28:20).
With a God like that, maybe it is time to make a disconnect between the behavior of our former (maybe even present) "role-models" and the character of the God of the Bible -- the God of the Universe. The character of this God is what defines the word 'Love'. Like the Prodigal Son (Luke 15:10-24), maybe it is time for us to come home to our loving Father who is waiting patiently to see us turn toward Him, so that He can run to us with arms open wide. He longs to envelop us in His love and to cover us with the robe of Christ's righteousness (1 John 1:9).
"I will greatly rejoice in Jehovah, my soul shall be joyful in my God;
for he hath clothed me with the garments of salvation,
he hath covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decketh himself with a garland,
and as a bride adorneth herself with her jewels.
For as the earth bringeth forth its bud,
and as the garden causeth the things that are sown in it to spring forth;
so the Lord Jehovah will cause righteousness and praise to spring forth before all the nations."
(Isaiah 61:10-11)

Bit or Yoke?

"Come now, and let us reason together, saith Jehovah: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool." (Isaiah 1:18).
This is the power greater than myself that I choose to believe is restoring me to sanity. This is the God who gives me hope of a better future. This is the God who invites us to come and be with Him. But for some, because of their history, this god is seen as a controlling god. The god of many people's understanding might be symbolized by a cowboy who rides us and controls us with the bit he puts in our mouth. But that's a tactic of the enemy. My God is different than that. Jehovah says, "I will instruct thee and teach thee in the way which thou shalt go: I will counsel thee with mine eye upon thee. 9 Be ye not as the horse, or as the mule, which have no understanding; Whose trappings must be bit and bridle to hold them in, Else they will not come near unto thee. 10 Many sorrows shall be to the wicked; But he that trusteth in Jehovah, lovingkindness shall compass him about. 11 Be glad in Jehovah, and rejoice, ye righteous; And shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart." (Psalms 32:8-11). My God, Jehovah, is not a god of force. He honors our freedom of choice even more than the life of His ("beloved Son").
Jesus says, "Come unto me, all ye that labour and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you, and learn of me; for I am meek and lowly in heart: and ye shall find rest unto your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light." (Matthew 11:28-30).
I have a friend who lives near a wilderness area. He and his wife obtained a permit to harvest some trees in an area where vehicles were not allowed off-road. Somehow they found a human yoke, which is very different from those used for oxen. There was no strapping into this yoke. It was designed for two people who would push against it with their chest. In the middle was a rope that connected to a metal clamp used to drag a log. This required a lot of communication, cooperation and trust between my friend and his wife. If one chose to turn right while the other chose to turn left, they would simply fall out of the yoke. So, one of them had to lead and the other had the choice to either follow intently, or lose their connection, through the yoke, to their spouse. I think it works much the same way with the yoke that Christ asks us to wear. He is always available to us, waiting to yoke us with Him. He longs to help us carry our load of responsibilities. All we need to do is to cooperate, listening intently to His "still small voice" (1 Kings 19:12). Then, as we choose to follow Him in His yoke, He makes the impossible possible. His yoke truly is easy.
Since I believe that Christ would never lead me in any way I would not choose to be led, if I could see the future as He can, I want to yoke up with Him. Then, as we share the load in that yoke, I know that He is well able to take us through any trouble that might get in our way. And, since He never makes mistakes, I trust Him to take the lead in His yoke. As He promised, I find rest for my soul in His yoke.
Jesus says, "I will not leave you comfortless: I will come to you."(John 14:18). "I will never leave thee, nor forsake thee" (Hebrews 13:5) "and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen." (Matthew 28:20) What is your response today?

Who is my Higher Power?

Since I realize my own powerlessness to deal with those sins which so easily beset me (Hebrews 12:1), it is imperative for me to find a power greater than myself that can (and is willing to) deliver me from these things. Without that Higher Power, I would have no hope -- no reason for living -- because my sins bring me so much pain.
Being raised in a Christian home, I've always given the God of the Bible credit for being the Creator and sovereign God of the universe. I knew too that Jesus died to pay the penalty for my sins. But it's been a gradual process for me to come to understand His unlimited love for me, and just how to co-operate with His loving power as He works to "restore me to sanity".
But, who is the Creator and sovereign God of the universe? Genesis 2 may be helpful to answer that question:
"And the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God[elohim] finished his work which he had made; and he rested on the seventh day from all his work which he had made. And God[elohim] blessed the seventh day, and hallowed it; because that in it he rested from all his work which God[elohim] had created and made. These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth when they were created, in the day that Jehovah God[elohim] made earth and heaven."(Genesis 2:1-4).
So, according to the creation account in the Bible, Jehovah is the Creator. The first of the 10 Commandments, may also be helpful:
"And God[elohim] spake all these words, saying, I am Jehovah thy God[elohim] , who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage. Thou shalt have no other gods[elohim] before me."(Exodus 20:1-3).
But, who does the New Testament declare as the Creator?
"God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds;" "... to us there is one God, the Father, of whom are all things... and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things..." (Hebrews 1:1-2; 1 Corinthians 8:6)
So, according to the Bible, who is the Creator and sovereign God of the universe? Jehovah - the Father of Christ, who made all things through His divine, "only begotten", "beloved Son", Jesus the Christ. Here is a deeper, Bible study about the Father.
Today I believe that, if I could see the end from the beginning, I would not choose to be lead (or ruled over) by any other god or by any other means. And, I believe that nothing can happen to me without His permission(Romans 8:28).
" And we know that God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them. And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God's love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow - not even the powers of hell can separate us from God's love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below - indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Romans 8:28,38,39) For it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)
Step 2: "Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity."