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Daily Devotional                      

Character Study  

8 Principles   

12 STEPS   

Daily Devotional - Day 2 - POWERLESS

The routine of our daily lives often reminds us of our lack of control.  We stand in a slow line at the grocery store waiting for a cashier-in-training.  Our car breaks down on the way to work.  We wait over a weekend to learn the results of a medical test.  Our coworker gets promoted, while we continue to wait for recognition.

In our attempts to deal with our lack of control, we worry about the details in our lives, pretend that it just doesn’t matter, or we become angry and resentful. We may isolate ourselves from other people to keep the pain at a distance.  Many of us try in one way or another to control our circumstances and the people around us.

Some of us are too proud to admit that certain areas of our lives have become unmanageable.  This pride can undermine our faith, cut us off from God and prevent us from recognizing our own powerlessness.  In this mode we refuse to allow ourselves to reach out for help.  Stories we encounter in the news distress us.  We hear about a man who left his three-year-old son in a car when it was 35 degrees outside.  The man was visiting a strip club!  Outraged, we ask ourselves, “Why doesn’t this father get help for his struggle with sexual addiction?”  Meanwhile, we’re attempting to escape our own pain through the repeated cycle of overeating and dieting.  Like the father visiting the strip club, we refuse to admit our own struggle or reach out for help.

By facing our powerlessness and admitting our weaknesses, we invite God to step in to change our lives.  After hearing a testimony at a Celebrate Recovery conference, a pastor approached the speakers, saying, “I want to tell you some bad news and some good news.  The bad news is that I’ve been struggling with my pride.  Your testimony made it clear to me that I’m a codependent who is powerless over my issues and that I need recovery.  The good news is that I’m going back to my church to start a Celebrate Recovery program.  My prayer is that our church can reach out and help people deal with their hurts, hang-ups and habits.”

We need to take four actions in order to complete Principle One:

  1. Stop denying the pain.  Psalm 6:2-3 describes a time in David’s life when he came to the end of his emotional and physical resources:  “Be merciful to me, LORD, for I am faint;  O LORD, heal me, for my bones are in agony.  My soul is in anguish.  How long, O LORD, how long?”  When David’s pain finally surpassed his fear, he was able to face his denial and feel the reality of his agony.  In the same way, if we want to be rid of our pain, we need to face it and work our way through it.
  2. Stop playing God.  The simple truth is that we’re either going to serve God or ourselves.  We can’t do both.  In the words of Matthew 6:24, “No one can serve two masters.  Either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other.  You cannot serve both God and Money.”  When our “self” is out of control, all our attempts at control—of ourselves or others—will fail.  We need to admit that we’re not God and that we’re powerless without him.  Then, when we’ve finally emptied ourselves, God will have room to come in and begin his healing work.
  3. Start admitting our powerlessness.  Our lust for power isn’t rooted in our strengths but in our weaknesses.  We need to recognize our human limitations and quit trying to resolve the issues by ourselves.  We need to admit that we’re powerless and be willing to turn over our lives to God.  Jesus knew how difficult this would be for us to do.  Matthew 19:26 sums up the situation for us, recording Jesus’ own words:  “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”
  4. Start admitting that our lives have become unmanageable.  With this admission we finally acknowledge that we’re out of control and powerless to change on our own.  David shared his feelings in Psalm 40:12:  “Troubles without number surround me; my sins have overtaken me, and I cannot see.  They are more than the hairs of my head, and my heart fails within me.”

Take a Look:

  • Of what are you still in denial, or what are you still trying to control in your own power?
  • Are there any other “masters” besides God in your life that you’re still trying to serve?
  • What are some of the things you keep doing that you really don’t want to do?
  • Can you relate to Psalm 40:12?  How?

Bible Character Story:

My Name is EVE – (p. 4 in the CR Bible - Genesis  3:1-7)

Understanding recovery begins with understanding our fundamental problem:  Our sin separates us from God and the blessings he wants us to enjoy.  Sin’s story begins with the temptation of Eve by Satan, in the guise of a serpent.  Even under the perfect conditions found in the Garden of Eden, temptation found Eve.  The devil’s strategy was to lead the firs woman to distort the word of God (vv. 1-3) and to doubt his goodness (vv. 4-6).  Eve twisted God’s words by adding to them and thereby misrepresenting his directive (v. 3).  Further, Gods’ goodness was attacked by the serpents assertion that Eve’s sin wouldn’t result in death (v. 4), as well as in Satan’s disparaging of God’s motives in his directions to Adam and Eve (v. 5).  God, the enemy insinuated, was holding out on the world’s first couple.  Eve bought into this last lie:  “When the woman saw that the fruit of the tree was good for food and pleasing to the eye, and also desirable for gaining wisdom, she took some and ate it” (v. 6).  Eve’s sin spread almost immediately to the only other person on the planet, her husband.  She took some of the fruit to Adam and he also ate.

At this point in the story, we see that some of the serpent’s predictions did indeed prove to be true.  Satan had informed Eve that “when you eat…your eyes will be opened” (v. 5) and that these first two humans would have personal experience with both good and evil.  The promise of the serpent, though, was that this would make them “like God” (v. 5).  The great irony of this deception was that both Adam and Eve were already “like God,” having been created in his own image (1:26-27).  Their eyes were now opened, and they did in fact know both good and evil, but the outcome of this experience was shame (3:7).

This is the tragic beginning of sins’ deadly, destructive work.  Lives continue to be devastated as God’s words are distorted and his goodness is doubted.  The consequences of sin, as well as God’s plans for humanity’s recovery are spelled out already in Adam and Eve’s story.

The 8 Principles

Principle 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) “Happy are those who know they are spiritually poor.” (Matthew 5:3)

Principle 2 - Earnestly believe that God exists, that I matter to Him, and that He has the power to help me recover. (Step 2)“Happy are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” (Matthew 5:4)

Principle 3 - Consciously choose to commit all my life and will to Christ’s care and control. (Step 3) “Happy are the meek.” (Matthew 5:5)

Principle 4 - Openly examine and confess my faults to myself, to God, and to someone I trust. (Steps 4 and 5) “Happy are the pure in heart.” (Matthew 5:8)

Principle 5 - Voluntarily submit to every change God wants to make in my life and humbly ask Him to remove my character defects. (Steps 6 and 7) “Happy are those whose greatest desire is to do what God requires.” (Matthew 5:6)

Principle 6 - Evaluate all my relationships; offer forgiveness to those who have hurt me and make amends for harm I’ve done to others except when to do so would harm them or others. (Steps 8 and 9) “Happy are the merciful." "Happy are the peacemakers.” (Matt 5:7, 5:9)

Principle 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)

Principle 8 - Yield myself to be used to bring this Good News to others, both by my example and by my words. (Step 12) “Happy are those who are persecuted because they do what God requires.” (Matthew 5:10)

12-Steps and the Biblical Comparisons

Step 1. We admitted we were powerless over our addictions and compulsive behavior. That our lives had become unmanageable. I know that nothing good lives in me, that is, in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. (Romans 7:18)

Step 2. Came to believe that a power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity. For it is God who is at work in you to will and to act according to his good purpose. (Philippians 2:13)

Step 3. Made a decision to turn our life and our will over to the care of God. Therefore, I urge you, brothers, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to God—this is your spiritual act of worship. (Romans 12:1)

Step 4. Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves. Let us examine our ways and test them, and let us return to the LORD. (Lamentations 3:40)

Step 5. Admitted to God, to ourselves, and to another human being, the exact nature of our wrongs. Therefore, confess your sins to each other, and pray for each other, so that you may be healed. (James 5:16a)

Step 6. Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and He will lift you up. (James 4:10)

Step 7. Humbly asked Him to remove all our shortcomings. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness. (1 John 1:9)

Step 8. Made a list of all persons we had harmed and became willing to make amends to them all. Do to others as you would have them do to you. (Luke 6:31)

Step 9. Made direct amends to such people whenever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others. Therefore, if you are offering your gift at the altar and there remember that your brother has something against you, leave your offering there in front of the altar. First go and be reconciled to your brother; and then come and offer your gift. (Matthew 5:23-24)

Step 10. Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong, promptly admitted it. So, if you think you are standing firm, be careful that you don’t fall! (1 Corinthians 10:12)

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