Monday, June 11, 2018

Winning the War Within - Its Recovery

The Bible is a strategy guide for spiritual warfare. It is also a manual for recovery for the wounded. Repeatedly we see its characters and even great spiritual heroes – David, Simon Peter, the Prodigal Son, Paul the chief of sinners – get back on their feet after failure. In the gospels we meet the Samaritan woman at the well, the woman caught in adultery, the penitent thief, and so many others meet Christ and find forgiveness and recovery.
The gospel is for sinners. For those who have failed and lost battles while fighting the war within.
So you know your own temptations, defeating habits, and persistent struggles. You recognize the sin that besets you, cripples you, and stifles you. Yet you fall and you fail. What now? Do you quit? Do you doubt? Do you retreat? You must not! There’s another choice: recovery. What Jesus did for Peter after his denials, He can do for you. Let’s learn how.
Turn to John 21.
Possible visual aid – crutch. Represents our need for help in spiritual recovery.
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For the other lessons in this series, click on the "Winning the War Within" link.
As we begin, let me ask all of you: How many among us know the significance of the date, June 6? What about June 6, 1944?
It was D-Day, when the Allies stormed the beach at Normandy. There was a physical, visible, earthly war. If the Allies had not paid the price and made the sacrifice, our nation might have been forced to submit to Nazi rule. We might be speaking German today.
But there was another battle here at home – an invisible, spiritual battle – going on at the same time. Stores closed, Wall Street paused, the President led the nation in prayer, and untold numbers of Americans devoted themselves to prayer.
Check out this fascinating post from Eric Metaxas:
“BreakPoint: The Spiritual Battle on D-Day”
And read this amazing prayer – and exhortation to all Americans to pray – as led by President Franklin D. Roosevelt.
Franklin Roosevelt's D-Day Prayer 
On D-Day, How did the spiritual warfare (the nation in prayer) affect the outcome of the military warfare (Allied troops on the ground)?
War correspondent Ernie Pyle, who arrived at Normandy on June 7, observed that the Allies achieved victory “with every advantage on the enemy’s side and every disadvantage on ours.” Despite this, he wrote, the total Allied casualties “were remarkably low—only a fraction, in fact, of what our commanders had been prepared to accept.”
“Now that it is all over,” Pyle finished, “it seems to me a pure miracle that we ever took the beach at all.”
Whatever we might say about D-Day, the truth is that the outcome of our war with sin begins in the heart. That’s why it’s vital that we understand how to win the war within.
But how can we recover after we have fallen?
Let’s study John 21 and see how Jesus got Simon Peter back on his feet after his three denials. Again there is a charcoal fire. Again there are three questions. By Jesus reenacting the scene where Peter had disowned him previously, He gave Peter the opportunity to change his answers. In this way Peter could repent of his failure, be forgiven, and be restored.
Here we went through John 21 and discussed its events. We compared Jesus’ three questions to Peter’s previous three questions and his repeated denials. The Greek word for the “charcoal fire” appears only here and in the texts describing Peter’s denials at a previous charcoal fire.
We noted the possible distinction between agapao and phileo in John 21, but also the fact that Peter was troubled by the fact that there was a third question. It became obvious to him that Jesus was in a sense reenacting the scene of the denials and giving Peter a chance to change his answers. He offered him spiritual recovery so he could win the war within.
We briefly named the Twelve Steps of Alcoholics Anonymous and discussed how they might be adapted in our efforts at spiritual recovery from sin.

1.   We admitted we were powerless over alcohol - that our lives had become unmanageable.
2.   Came to believe that a Power greater than ourselves could restore us to sanity.
3.   Made a decision to turn our will and our lives over to the care of God as we understood Him.
4.   Made a searching and fearless moral inventory of ourselves.
5.   Admitted to God, to ourselves and to another human being the exact nature of our wrongs.
6.   Were entirely ready to have God remove all these defects of character.
7.   Humbly asked Him to remove our shortcomings.
8.   Made a list of all persons we had harmed, and became willing to make amends to them all.
9.   Made direct amends to such people wherever possible, except when to do so would injure them or others.
10.        Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.
11.        Sought through prayer and meditation to improve our conscious contact with God as we understood Him, praying only for knowledge of His will for us and the power to carry that out.
12.        Having had a spiritual awakening as the result of these steps, we tried to carry this message to alcoholics and to practice these principles in all our affairs.
Then we followed with these:
Steps to Recovery
Admit your sin, temptation, lack of perfection.
Identify your triggers, choices, and reactions.
Let the past refine you but not define you.
Surrender more fully to the Lordship of Christ.
Repent. Reverse. Retreat. Release. Repeat!
Seek and accept God’s forgiveness. Yours too.
More Steps to Recovery
Confess and make restitution where possible.
Accept God’s discipline with His forgiveness.
Mine the wreckage to learn its lessons.
Get godly counsel, accountability friend(s).
Teach others about His power to restore.
Move forward, confident but still cautious.

Some of this material was suggested by, and adapted from, Winning the War Within, by Charles Stanley.

Possible hymns:
Burdens are Lifted at Calvary
Restore My Soul
Love Lifted Me
I am Coming, Lord
I am Resolved
I Bring My Sins to Thee (possible invitation)
Do You Know My Jesus? (possible invitation)

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