And take…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. Ephesians 6:17
Volume 21, Number
In this issue:
13 Years, and counting.
Today marks 13 years since I decided to put away a life of bondage to alcohol and other drugs. 13 years of sobriety!
It’s on this day that I like to reflect and consider, so here goes...
Thinking back on the time I spent living a wayward life, I associated with so many people doing what they thought was “having fun” and thought I was having “fun” myself. Now I know, on the other side of that cup or bottle - on the other side of the “fun” - for me there was only sadness, regret, loneliness, pain, shame, and a desire to get lost in the fog that came from the high the substance brought. Alcohol and drugs can only offer counterfeits of the true happiness that is felt of a life lived for the Lord, a life lived without those substances. Those substances promise so many things to the one who is using them -- love, feeling of normalcy, belonging, happiness, joy, relief from the problems or the thoughts, a way to deal with life, a means of coping -- but those promises come up empty no matter how much one drinks or uses.
The reality is, what the substance falls short of in its deliverance to the user, God provides in full measure to those who follow Him. The substances that are put in the body can never do the job the people partaking of them think they will; it can never satisfy the hole within that can only be filled by the Lord.
I used for nearly a decade of my life and had many reasons why I did so. Looking back on those years though, never once did it fulfill me, never once did it provide any lasting help, or hope, or happiness; never once did it truly make my life better. At best, during those times, it caused me to forget or be distracted long enough for me to fill myself up with more poison -- only to wake the next day and have the same problems I was trying to escape plus new ones to deal with.
There are times when that life calls out to me, tries to entice me to return, dangles the taste before me that my mind remembers, but there is nothing about that life that is appealing anymore. When I see alcohol, tobacco, narcotics -- I see enslavement and it just makes me feel sad for those people who are using them. We think we “need” things like that in our lives, but to push them out of our lives and refuse to let them back in brings a clarity and a freedom that I do not even have the words to describe.
Recovery circles have a saying “to drink is to die”, or some derivation of that, and it is not just a saying. To go back to that life, it really does mean death. Most of us who have long periods of sobriety recognize that if we ever returned to that lifestyle again, it would likely claim our lives in some fashion. Although, if that didn’t happen and we lived long lives enslaved to the bottle again, the real living that we know now as sober people would be all but lost and life lived on a substance is no life at all -- hence, “to die”.
The desire to stay away from those things is that strong. So strong, that if I had to make a choice between death and using again, I would choose death. The account of the three Hebrew children in Daniel 3:16-18 sums up my sentiment:
“Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, “O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter. If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king. But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up.”
Life with the Lord, is true living. Life without the Lord, is just prolonged dying. I choose life.
There is a verse that helped strengthen me, and still does, as I recovered from the life that nearly destroyed me, and here it is:
“Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. For consider Him who endured such hostility from sinners against Himself, lest you become weary and discouraged in your souls. You have not yet resisted to bloodshed, striving against sin.” ~Hebrews 12:1-4
Praise the Lord for sparing my life and for giving me true life through His Son. 13 years, and counting. (Facebook post, June 26, 2019)
(Editor’s Note: We commend brother Adams for his courage and endurance in facing this personal challenge. He speaks from faith and experience, and we hope his message helps others.)
After these things I heard a loud voice of a great multitude in heaven, saying, “Alleluia! Salvation and glory and honor and power belong to the Lord our God!” (Revelation 19:1)
The joy of salvation should fill each Christian’s heart this Lord’s day as he or she assembles to worship the God of heaven and earth.
“Alleluia” (hallelujah) means “praise ye Jehovah” or “praise ye the Lord”, and is the victorious shout of triumph as God executes His true and righteous judgments against evil (Rev. 19:2).
In the book of Revelation, this heavenly shout of praise erupts in heaven when God brings just punishment upon the persecutors of His saints (Rev. 18:24-19:6).
Hallelujah is a word of spiritual weight and substance, uttered with respect and honor for God. Christians will resist using it as the world does, in mundane, and even blasphemous ways.
When you worship God, call to mind your deliverance from sin’s oppression through Christ Jesus. Raise your voice in joyful strains of “Alleluia” as heaven and earth together praise “the Lord our God” – “the Lord God Omnipotent who reigns” (Rev. 19:1, 6). -Sword Tips #49 (revised)
You can find the complete outline of this sermon plus PowerPoint and MP3 Audio files at BIBLE ANSWERS
Scripture Reading: Colossians 2:8-14
Surgery is not pleasant, but often necessary.
I. GOD’S OPERATION: THE CIRCUMCISION
OF CHRIST, Col. 2:11-12.
II. AMPUTATION OF OFFENSES (surgical instruments of repentance: Self-denial, Lk. 14:33; Holiness, 1 Pet. 1:13-17).
A. Amputation is Extreme, but its
Purpose is to Save the Patient.
III. IMPLANT THE WORD OF GOD IN YOUR HEART, Jas. 1:21-22.
A. Must Sterilize the Affected
Area (the heart), 1:21. (Heb. 4:12)
(Current events in the light of Scripture)
Images of Death
A horrible scene of death was captured in a photograph this week of an El Salvadoran man and his 2-year-old daughter. In Mexico, face-down on the bank of the Rio Grande River, they drowned trying to cross into the U.S. Such images of death are repeated too often in the southwestern desert stretching from Texas to California, as people cross the border illegally, trying to evade capture. Suffering people are regularly found by U.S. Border Patrol agents and taken to hospitals for life-saving care.
Anyone who has witnessed a dead body knows the utter finality it magnifies. Death does not send back its victims. But, Jesus Christ is the answer to death’s power.
Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?” (Jno. 11:25–26) Jesus Christ arose from the dead, assuring all of us that we will arise from the dead when He returns (Lk. 24:6; Jno. 5:28-29; 1 Cor. 15:22-26). Although physical death comes to us all, those who believe in Christ do not fear death (Heb. 2:14-15). Furthermore, those who live faithfully to Him will escape eternal death (Jno. 11:26).
After death and when Jesus returns, we will all stand before Him in judgment (Heb. 9:27; Acts 17:31; 2 Cor. 5:10). As terrible as the image of a dead father and daughter is, more terrible still is the image of those who reject the Savior and are eternally dead (Rev. 20:12-15; 21:8). Believe and follow Jesus now!
Created by Chuck Sibbing, last updated. 06/30/2019
The Spirit's Sword is a free,
weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ, Bellingham, WA