Daily Devotions

Thank You, A.A.

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Therefore confess your sins to one another, and pray for one another, so that you may be healed. The prayer of the righteous is powerful and effective. (James 5:16)

God blessed me with a mentor in ministry. His name was Rev. Allen Montgomery. I served under him in Schererville, Indiana. I remember a powerful sermon Allen gave one Sunday morning. He talked about drinking and drugs. He said to the congregation that you shouldn’t just avoid alcohol and drugs because the Bible speaks to the issue. No, you should find out why the Bible speaks out against it. For today’s society, saying, “the Bible said it, isn’t enough.” You have to explain why the Bible is insistent.

Allen went on to tell the congregation why the Bible is insistent - but it wasn’t what the youth and adults had expected. He said, “When you alter your mind with alcohol or drugs, you alter the path of the Holy Spirit. You make it harder for the Spirit to not only find you, but also alcohol and drugs build a sound proof wall that keeps the Spirit from being heard.” It isn’t that God couldn’t find the alcoholic and/or drug addict, but God often respects our free will, even when we don’t respect ourselves.

God has an answer to the pain and confusion that drive people to drink, smoke, pop, and shoot. It begins with a Prayer of Confession, which is similar to A.A.’s “admitting that one cannot control one’s alcoholism, addiction, or compulsion.” In worship, we share a Declaration of Pardon right after the Confession, and it fulfills A.A.’s process of “recognizing a higher power that can give strength.” Even Passing the Peace of Christ has a similar parallel in A.A.’s 12 steps. “Examining past errors with the help of a sponsor (experienced members).” Passing the Peace of Christ symbolizes the communal aspect of the faith. We cannot remain spiritually healthy apart from the community of faith.

I could keep going through each A.A. step, but you get the idea. A.A.’s 12 steps are a gift from God. Today, pray for those who struggle with the disease. Have the Holy Spirit move the sufferer beyond selfishness and suffering. Pray for all those who have been hurt by the one who struggles. Finally, pray for the self-awareness to consider the myriad of ways each one of us fools ourselves into thinking we can control our own lives successfully. If this isn’t our particular issue, there is something each one of us refuses to hand over to God. The illusion of control is our universal downfall. Open that pathway, knock down the walls, and allow God to renew us again.

 

Ralph Waldo was Useful in this Devotion

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And become useful and helpful and kind to one another, tenderhearted (compassionate, understanding, loving-hearted), forgiving one another [readily and freely], as God in Christ forgave you. (Ephesians 4:32)

If you’ve read my devotions for the past few years, you know I have a love/hate relationship with the idea of happiness. Don’t get me wrong, I would like to be happy. It’s just I do not believe happiness should be anyone’s primary focus or goal. Thankfully, I found a writer who agrees with me. Because he agrees with me, he must be brilliant!

Darius Foroux, in his article, The Purpose Of Life Is Not Happiness: It’s Usefulness, argues, that what we think will bring happiness will ultimately fail to last. Foroux argues that “usefulness” is the real answer to happiness. Foroux gives examples of ways he sought happiness. “Just a few short years ago, I did everything to chase happiness.” He said,

  • You buy something, and you think that makes you happy.
  • You hook up with people, and think that makes you happy.
  • You get a well-paying job you don’t like, and think that makes you happy.
  • You go on holiday, and you think that makes you happy.

Foroux said all these things left him cold and frustrated, because they didn’t make him feel useful.

I probably would have been happier in life, if I had read more of the classics. If I had, I would have read this Ralph Waldo Emerson quote, that answers Foroux’s argument:

The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.”

Happiness is found in making a difference is people’s lives.

Once again, God continues to share wisdom that continues to hold true even in our advanced 21st century society. The Bible is many things, but nowhere is it a happiness self-help guide. But, when you read the Bible, there is an underlying theme of usefulness throughout. God knows that meaning, joy, and happiness are found in being useful.

Today, reflect on your feeling of usefulness. Usefulness takes on many forms at different times in life. When you have a newborn, you feel useful every day you get out of bed and change the diaper properly. After retirement, usefulness looks different. Prayerfully call upon the Holy Spirit to guide you in ways to make the best use of your life. When you find usefulness, happiness will not be far behind.

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