Lesson 21 Relapse

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.

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

In the past I heard a sermon series on Luke 24. In verse 13 the story known as the road to Emmaus begins. In brief it is the story of two of Jesus’ disciples. The lesser know variety but none the less devout followers who were basically in shock from the recent crucifixion. As they were walking along they were discussing the recent events when Jesus strolled up beside them and joined in their conversation. Acting like he wasn’t aware of what happened till they related their version of what they had seen happen. You see they thought their messiah was coming to wipe away the Roman rule and establish an earthly kingdom. Restore justice and right standing for the chosen of God. They watched in horror as their own religious leaders handed him over to the Romans and they crucified him. Talk about dreams being shattered.  They related to Jesus how after his crucifixion that he had been laid in a tomb only to come up missing a few days later. They were so disillusioned and confused. Even though they were taught the Old Testament prophesies they still were lost and unaware of what the future was all about. So they were headed back to Emmaus to pick up where they left off, virtual prisoners in an enemy occupied country. Not in any way good but familiar. Not too challenging, but it was what they had grown use to accepting.

Sound at all familiar?

That’s relapse. It starts gradually,

subtly.  It starts by going back to what is old and familiar.

Maybe you find yourself looking up an old friend on Facebook.

Or maybe you find yourself casually almost accidentally cruising by an old hangout or watering hole than kind of looking maybe seeing if you recognize someone you knows’ car or looking at the door to see if you recognize anyone coming out.

You start with thinking about how good the old days were.

I  go back to what I’ve known the longest when I lose sight of what God is doing in my life and it’s not looking the way I thought it would or it’s taking longer than I thought. What he has promised is His plan for my life is not as clear….  (to read whole lesson click here)  Jesus called them foolish for not believing what the prophets had foretold. I am too often foolishly forgetful. When I heard this sermon the other day I had the same reaction the two travelers had when they realized what Jesus had revealed to them. My heart burned as I realized I was too often prone to leaving the new for the old. I can sometimes become focused on the hurt and the harm I have felt others have done to me and how life seems to at times be unfair. I allow myself to look back at the past life and long for the old familiar ways of comforting myself and finding comfort.

Preventing Relapse

This week’s acrostic is RELAPSE:

Reserve a daily quiet time

Evaluate

Listen to Jesus

Alone and quiet time

Plug in to God’s power

Slow down

Enjoy your growth

The first letter in relapse stands for Principle 7 itself: RESERVE a daily quiet time with God for self-examination, Bible reading, and prayer in order to know God and His will for my life and gain the power to follow His will.

The first step in preventing a relapse is to admit that you will be tempted, that you are not above temptation. Jesus wasn’t, why should you be?

We find the account of Jesus’ temptation in Matthew 4:1–11 (TLB):

Jesus was led out into the wilderness to be tempted there by Satan.… For forty days and forty nights he ate nothing and became very hungry. Then Satan tempted him to get food by changing stones into loaves of bread.

            “It will prove you are the Son of God,” he said.

            But Jesus told him, “No! For the Scriptures tell us that bread won’t feed men’s souls: obedience to every word of God is what we need.”

            Then Satan took him to Jerusalem to the roof of the Temple. “Jump off,” he said, “and prove you are the Son of God.”

            Jesus retorted, “It also says not to put the Lord your God to a foolish test.”

            Next, Satan took him to the peak of a very high mountain and showed him the nations of the world and all their glory. “I’ll give it all to you,” he said, “if you will only kneel and worship me.”

            “Get out of here, Satan.… The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’”

            Then Satan went away, and angels came and cared for Jesus.

The test was over; the devil left. Jesus was tempted. He never sinned, but He was tempted.

Mark 14:38 tells us: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

I’ll say it again so I hear it. “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak.”

Remember, being tempted isn’t a sin. It’s falling into the action of the temptation that gets us into trouble.

Temptation is not a sin; it is a call to battle. When we are tempted to fall back into our old hurts, hang-ups, and habits we need to say to Satan as Jesus did in Matthew 4:10 (TLB): “Get out of here … The Scriptures say, ‘Worship only the Lord God. Obey only him.’”

The next word in our acrostic reminds us of Step 10: EVALUATE.

Going back to what we have heard about in the last couple of lessons. Your evaluation needs to include your physical, emotional, relational, and spiritual health.

Knowing how we love acrostic here is one of Rick warrens famous acrostic

“H-E-A-R-T”

Perform this self check. Ask yourself daily if you are

Hurting

Exhausted

Angry

Resentful

Tense

If you answer yes to any of the above, use the tools you have learned in recovery to help get you back on track. If you have trouble remembering ask for help from your accountability group.   Another acrostic that is a good check up tool is HALT  (hungry, angry, lonely, tired)

We also can find specific instructions for this step in Romans 12:3–17: “Be honest in your estimate of yourselves.… Hate what is wrong. Stand on the side of the good. Love each other.… Be patient in trouble.… Do things in such a way that everyone can see you are honest clear through.”

The practice of daily personal inventory “Step 10” maintains your honesty and humility.

The L is LISTEN to your Higher Power, Jesus Christ.

I need to take a time-out from the “rat race” that I find myself in long enough to listen to my body, my mind, and my soul. I need to and perhaps you also need to slow down enough to hear the Lord’s directions. Like the Living Bible says in 1 Thessalonians 5:21

“Test everything that is said to be sure it is true, and if it is, then accept it”.

A simpler quote of that verse in The Message says “Don’t be gullible. Check out everything and keep only what’s good. Throw out anything tainted with evil.”

Let’s look at the letter A, which stands for ALONE and quiet time.

The first part of Step 11 says:

“We sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God.”

In Principle 3, we made a decision to turn our lives and our wills over to God’s care; in Principle 4, we confessed our sins to Him; and in Principle 5, we humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.

If I follow Principle 7 in order to keep my recovery growing, I need to have a daily quiet time with Jesus. That is a challenge for me personally. I know even Jesus spent time alone with His Father; and I desire and need to do the same. I do try to set a daily time to be alone with God though I tend to let it slide around and I forget at times to do it, but I know if I do that I will learn to listen more carefully, and I will learn what God’s voice sounds like, and I can better hear what God has to tell me!

In Psalm 46:10 God tells us to “be still, and know that I am God.”

Step 11 uses the word “meditation.” I’ve known what meditation is for a while. I don’t meditate as often as I’d like to say. Maybe meditation is new to you, or not but if it is and you feel uncomfortable. The definition of meditation is simply “slowing down long enough to hear God.” With practice, can all begin to realize the value of spending time alone with God. He is faithful to what he says and will meet us in our alone time.

Just be aware our enemy Satan the liar uses whatever he can to disrupt your quiet time with God. He tells you need to fill your schedule with so many good things that you burn out or do not have the time to keep your appointment with God. The Enemy loves it when he keeps us from growing and from working on the most important relationship in our lives—our relationship with Jesus.

Psalm 1:1–3 (GNB) tells us: “Happy are those who … find joy in obeying the Law of the Lord … they study it day and night. They are like trees that grow beside a stream, that bear fruit at the right time.”

The next letter is P: PLUG in to God’s power through prayer.

You see, if we don’t daily seek His will for our lives, how can we blame Him when things go wrong?

I’ve thought a times God should follow my instructions. Man did I have it backwards. I’m better off to daily seek His will for my life. I’ve noticed God’s guidance and direction can only start when my demands stop. Because I stop demanding things of God, does not mean I stop asking things of Him. Specific prayer requests are another way to be plugged into God’s power.

In Philippians 4:6, Paul tells us to pray about everything asking for God’s perfect will in all our decisions: “Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything; tell God your needs and don’t forget to thank him for his answers.”

The verse says His answers, His perfect will—not mine or yours.

Let’s look at the S in our acrostic: SLOW down long enough to hear God’s answer.

After I spend time praying to God, I need to slow down long enough to hear His answers and direction, but I have often become inpatient. I want God’s answer now! But, we all need to remember our timing can be flawed and God’s timing is always perfect! After I pray and ask, I need to listen. God said to Job,

“Listen to me. Keep silence and I will teach you wisdom!” (33:33, TLB).

Philippians 4:7 (TLB) tells us: “If you do this [present your requests to God] you will experience God’s peace, which is far more wonderful than the human mind can understand. His peace will keep your thoughts and your hearts quiet and at rest as you trust in Christ Jesus.”

Finally, the last letter in relapse is E: ENJOY your growth.

You need to enjoy your victories. Rejoice in and celebrate the small successes along your road to recovery! First Thessalonians 5:16 (GNB) tells us to

“Be joyful always, pray at all times, be thankful in all circumstances. This is what God wants from you in your life in union with Christ Jesus.”

With daily practice of these principles and with Christ’s loving presence in our lives, we will be able to maintain and continue to grow in recovery!

Some practical tools to avoid relapse:

1. Pray and read our Bible daily. Establish a specific time of day to have our “quiet time.”

2. Make attending our recovery meeting a priority. Stay close to our support team. If we find our self saying, “I’m too busy to go to Celebrate Recovery tonight,” make time. Make all efforts necessary to flee from whatever we are doing and come share our recovery.

3. Spend time with our families if they are safe. If you find that yours are not, spend time with our church family. Celebrate Recovery meet’

4. Get involved in service. Volunteer! Don’t wait until you get to Principle 8 to start serving.

(for warning signs of relapse click here)

Reflection:  What are some ways you could improve your listening skill with others, and with God?  What are some of the things that you do in your recovery to hel you n your journey and prevent relapse?
                      

Please Share your experience, strength and hope (identity will remain anonymous)

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