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"Where To Get Help When You Hurt" (Road to Recovery - Part 2)
In the first message in this series I mentioned that the FIRST STEP TO RECOVERY IS TO REALIZE I'M NOT GOD, ADMIT I'M POWERLESS TO CONTROL MY TENDENCY TO DO THE WRONG THING AND MY LIFE IS UNMANAGEABLE.
This is based on the beatitude found in Matthew 5:3:
"Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
What this means is that we recognize our need for God.
That's the first step, the reality step.
I mentioned that all of us need recovery because none of us is perfect.
The world is imperfect.
We have all been hurt.
We all have habits or have had habits.
We all have hang-ups or have had hang-ups.
We all have things we would like to change.
The steps to recovery are the same regardless of what your problem is.
Last time I talked about the desire to control things.
The more insecure we are, the more we want to control things.
We want to control our lives,
We want to control other people's lives,
We want to control our environment.
We want to be God.
When we try to control everything, we end up with fatigue, frustration, and failure.
How do we break out of that pattern?
We have to get past denial.
Denial is what keeps us from moving into recovery.
We make excuses saying, "Really, it's not a problem . . . Really, I'm fine . . . I can handle it."
We excuse ourselves and accuse others.
We play the blame game.
We have to learn how to deal with denial.
What's the antidote for denial.
What finally makes us face up to our problems?
God's antidote for denial is pain.
We sometimes change when we see the light.
But we often change when we feel the heat.
We don't change until our fear of change is exceeded by the pain.
Most people never really move into recovery until they are forced to.
They move into recovery because they have run out of other options.
God uses three denial busters.
Denial busters are things that get our attention.
Denial busters are things that force us to move into recovery from things that have messed up our lives.
God's Denial Busters
The crisis may be an illness,
It may be stress,
It may be the loss of a job.
It may be pain of some kind.
Pain is like a fire alarm.
It goes off, warning you something is wrong in your life.
If a fire alarm goes off in your house, what do you do?
Do you ignore it.
Most people when they hear a fire alarm go off will respond and move to a safe place.
But some people simply pull the battery out of the alarm to disenable it so it doesn't go off every time dinner is burned.
It is not unusual for people to lose their lives in a fire simply because the battery had been removed from the smoke alarm.
They simply silence the alarm.
People also silence the fire alarm of pain by covering it up with food, alcohol, sex or other things.
But it doesn't deal with the problem that is causing the pain.
Another denial buster is:
Somebody cares enough to say, "You're blowing it."
Somebody loves you enough to confront you in truth and love and say, "You are missing out."
"You're about to lose your family."
"You're about to lose your health."
"You're about to lose your job."
Somebody confronts you because they care about you.
Another denial buster is:
Sometimes the bottom falls out of our lives, physically, emotionally, spiritually, financially, relationally.
When we hit the bottom God sometimes steps back and allows us to feel the full impact of our pain.
Sometimes when we want to play God, God steps back and lets us play God.
Then we reap what we sow.
That's the first step on the Road to Recovery, the reality step.
The second step is what we call the Hope step.
Step 1 says: I admit it.
Step 2 says: There is a power.
That's the good news.
There is a power you can plug into to handle things you can't handle on your own.
Step 2 on the Road to Recovery is to:
EARNESTLY BELIEVE THAT GOD EXISTS, THAT I MATTER TO HIM, AND THAT HE HAS THE POWER TO HELP ME RECOVER.
This step is based on the beatitude in Matthew 5:4:
"Blessed are those who mourn, for they will be comforted."
This second step is also related to Hebrews 11:6 which I have chosen for the Memory Verse for the Week:
. . . without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.
There are three parts to taking Step 2 on this road to recovery.
I. ACKNOWLEDGE GOD'S EXISTENCE.
Most of us don't have a problem with this.
Most people believe that there is a God.
Even though they have tried to take God out of the public schools, I believe there are fewer atheists today than there were 50 years ago.
The reason is we know more about the universe today than we did 50 years ago.
The more we find out about the universe, the fewer people are willing to stick their necks out and say "I believe it all just happened by accident."
Today it takes more faith not to believe in a Creator than it does to believe in one.
Where there is a Creation, there should be a Creator.
Where there is an effect there must be a cause.
Where there is design there must be a designer.
Romans 1:20 = For since the creation of the world God's invisible qualities - his eternal power and divine nature - have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that men are without excuse.
Psalm 19:1 = The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of his hands.
The Bible says it's foolish not to believe in God.
It's irrational, it's illogical not to believe in God.
But the real issue for most is not "Is there a God?"
The real issue is "What kind of God is He?"
"What is He really like?"
Many of us get our ideas about what God is like by looking at our parents.
Sometimes that is tragic.
If our parents were unloving and maybe even abusive we tend to think of God as being unloving and abusive.
But that is not a true measure of what God is like.
II. UNDERSTAND GOD'S CHARACTER
The second step in this recovery is not just to acknowledge His existence, but to understand His character.
What is He really like?
Until I know what God is really like, I can't trust him.
I'm not going to trust something or someone that I don't know anything about.
Fortunately God wants us to know what He's like.
So He came to earth about 2000 years ago in the form of a human being.
He came as Jesus Christ.
And He said this is what God is like.
We can know what God is like.
That's why we celebrate Christmas and Easter.
Colossians 1:15 tells us: He (Jesus) is the image of the invisible God . . .
If you want to know what God is like just look at Jesus because He is the visible expression of the invisible God.
If we read about Jesus in the Bible and study His life, we will learn a lot about God.
There are three things we can learn about God the Father from God the Son, Jesus Christ, that will help us get over our hurts, habits and hang-ups.
1. God knows all about my situation.
The Psalmist David wrote this: O Lord, you have searched me and you know me. You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. Psalm 139:1-3
God knows what we are going through.
He knows the good and the bad.
Some of you have had a tough week,
Some of you have had a tough month,
Some of you have had a tough life.
Some of you may be thinking, "Nobody knows the abuse I have experienced in my marriage."
Or some of you may thinking, "Nobody knows the struggle I am having with drug addiction."
Or "Nobody knows the depression I am experiencing."
Somebody does know.
God sees the crisis in your soul.
God knows all about our situation.
The second thing we learn about God from Jesus is that:
2. God cares about my situation.
In Psalm 103, God is described as the One:
. . . who forgives all your sins and heals all your diseases,
Who redeems your life from the pit and crowns you with love and compassion,
who satisfies your desires with good things so that your youth is renewed like the eagle's.
God cares about us on our good days and on our bad days.
God wants to be the Father that some of you never had.
The third thing we learn about God from Jesus is that:
3. God can change me and my situation.
Sometimes God changes us and sometimes He changes our situation.
Sometimes He changes both.
The Apostle Paul writes this in Ephesians 1:18,19:
I pray . . . that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened . . . that you may know the hope to which he has called you . . . and his incomparably great power for us who believe.
There is great power available to us who believe.
If God can raise Jesus from the dead, He can raise a dead relationship.
He can raise a person back to health.
He can set us free from an addiction.
He can help us close the door on the past so those memories stop haunting us.
Over the years, I have seen God touch and change many lives and so have many of you.
Every changed life is a miracle and a demonstration of the power of God.
The longer we postpone allowing God to deal with our pain, the fewer days we have on this earth to be all God meant us to be.
Allow God to heal the hurts of your past.
Don't get stuck in the past.
Being stuck in the past is like driving a car always looking in the rearview mirror.
The reason your rearview mirror is so much smaller than your windshield is that you're supposed to be looking forward much of the time and not backward.
Spiritual growth is the process of expanding that windshield and shrinking the rearview mirror, so we can get on with life.
III. ACCEPT GOD'S OFFER TO HELP US
It's not enough just to believe in God.
Most of you believe in God but that hasn't wiped away the hurt.
You've got to plug into the power.
Philippians 2:13 = . . . it is God who works in you to will and to act according to his good purpose.
God is saying, "Your own willpower is not enough."
"Good intentions are not enough."
"What you need is My will and My power to help you change."
When we invite God to come into our lives, He gives us His Holy Spirit.
We are told in 2 Timothy 1:7 that the Spirit that God gives us is a spirit of power, of love and of self-discipline.
That's what we need in our lives.
We need power.
We need power to break the habits we can't break in our own strength.
We need power to do the things that we know are right.
We need power to get on with the kind of life God wants us to live.
The Spirit God gives us is also a spirit of love.
We need to love people and allow them love us.
The Spirit God gives us is also a spirit of self-discipline or self-control.
When we have the Spirit of God dwelling within us and filling us, we begin to understand what it means to get it all together.
There is a profound principle found in the universe: Things work best when they are plugged in.
Toasters, blenders, televisions, radios, ovens, washers, dryers, etc.
Things work best when they are plugged in.
Things work best for us when we are plugged into God.
God meant for us to be plugged into Him.
That's how He created us.
How do we plug into God's power?
Believe and receive!
Believe that God exists and that He sent His only Son to die on the cross for our sins.
Receive His Son, Jesus, as your Savior and Lord.
There is a higher power you can plug into.
His name is Jesus!
Soon our lives will be over.
It is better to live a few years full of the Spirit, seeing God work in and through us, than to go on with little or no experience of the great things God has promised to his people through the person and work of the Spirit.