Today’s reading: 1 Nephi Chapter 1
…I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance.
~ 1 Nephi 1:20 ~
A mindful and spiritually focused recovery program empowers an individual toward experiencing a mighty power unto deliverance. How does this bring about a mighty power unto deliverance? First, it requires understanding of what the tender mercies of the Lord are. Second, it requires a deep and significant spiritual conviction and awakening in the person’s life. Third, a person comes to a place of sincere and genuine humility in order to surrender their life and will over to God. Finally, a person becomes free from whatever has held them captive and bound in order to live a life where there is meaning and purpose.
I testify that the tender mercies of the Lord are available to all of us and that the Redeemer of Israel is eager to bestow such gifts upon us.
~ David A. Bednar, “The Tender Mercies of the Lord” 2005 General Conference ~
Tender Mercies of the Lord
David A. Bednar shares his personal insights on what the tender mercies of the Lord are. He remarks:
“I have reflected repeatedly upon the phrase “the tender mercies of the Lord.” Through personal study, observation, pondering, and prayer, I believe I have come to better understand that the Lord’s tender mercies are the very personal and individualized blessings, strength, protection, assurances, guidance, loving-kindnesses, consolation, support, and spiritual gifts which we receive from and because of and through the Lord Jesus Christ. Truly, the Lord suits “his mercies according to the conditions of the children of men” (D&C 46:15).
These tender mercies help us understand the nature of how a mindful and spiritual recovery program works to bring us to a place where we experience this mighty power unto deliverance. They are the principle foundations one is empowered to build upon in order to experience real freedom from what holds them in bondage.
Photo from Meridian Magazine | Addiction – The Spiritual Bondage of our Time
Personal and individualized spiritual blessings
One of the most sacred and fundamental truths of our time is the idea of personal revelation. Elder L. Lionel Kendrick shares this insight, on personal revelation, in his 1997 BYU Address:
“…[Our] Heavenly Father … desires to continue to communicate with us and to give us counsel and direction. He does this through personal revelation, which involves preparation, prayer, and promptings. Personal revelation is one of the greatest gifts and blessings we can receive.
Through personal revelation, we are able to tap into a spiritual well of wisdom, insight, guidance, and comfort. Something we need to navigate the pathway of recovery.
This requires our preparation to receive direct guidance and counsel from our Heavenly Father. This is accomplished through our personal commitment to praying, fasting, and meditation. Without these three components, we will miss out on what our Heavenly Father desires to reveal to our hearts and minds.
Two components are involved when it comes to preparing our hearts to receive personal revelation. According to A Prepared Heart – February 2016 post at Jewish Jewels website, we read that the first component is what God does to prepare our hearts. The second is what we are empowered to do to prepare our hearts. The post reflects this thought on how God prepares our hearts:
Psalm 10:17 is a key verse of Scripture concerning God’s role: “LORD, You have heard the desire of the humble; You will prepare (ta-KEEN) their heart; You will cause Your ear to hear.” The Amplified Bible says that God will “prepare and strengthen and direct” our hearts. God does this work of preparation in our hearts when we humble ourselves before Him, confess our great need of Him, and desire to do His will.
Our part is an ongoing process where we consistently, and daily, give ourselves over to our Heavenly Father. Yielding to Him all aspects of ourselves and lives. As we consistently give ourselves over to God’s divine care, we are nurtured, blessed, strengthened, and empowered. It is where we receive those many tender mercies of God that bring about our mighty power unto deliverance.
Our part in the preparation of our heart is focused more on how we humbly come to Him in full agreement to surrender our life and will over to His divine and sovereign care. We do not spend our time convincing God to agree with us. Instead, we are fully prepared to follow Him in agreement of His divine wisdom and heavenly counsel.
When we do this, we inevitably experience the other tender mercies of God, through Jesus Christ:
- We are strengthened daily through our devotion to Him, increasing our faith and trust.
- We are confident and assured in His divine protection of our lives as we navigate the rough seas of recovery.
- We are guided by divine and sovereign love and kindness because our Heavenly Father loves us and is long suffering toward us.
- We find consolation and comfort when we experience tragedy, misfortune, setbacks, and even when we come to repent of our sins and transgressions.
All of these are sacred spiritual blessings each one of us receive as we make our journey to overcome our substance use, co-dependent and toxic relationships, and other compulsory behaviors.
A Deep and Spiritual Awakening and Conviction
Henry Blackaby provides this insight regarding deep and personal spiritual awakening and conviction:
“When Holy God draws near in true revival, people come under terrible conviction of sin. The outstanding feature of spiritual awakening has been the profound consciousness of the presence and holiness of God. “
One of the most powerful testimonies of those who are sincere in their recovery program are those who have come to experience a personal spiritual conviction, awakening, and revival. This occurs when a person experiences a contrite and broken heart and spirit.
Those who have a broken heart and a contrite spirit are willing to do anything and everything that God asks of them. ~ Bruce D. Porter, October 2007 General Conference. ~
In his October 2007 General Conference address, Bruce D. Porter makes this observation:
The Savior’s perfect submission to the Eternal Father is the very essence of a broken heart and a contrite spirit. Christ’s example teaches us that a broken heart is an eternal attribute of godliness. When our hearts are broken, we are completely open to the Spirit of God and recognize our dependence on Him for all that we have and all that we are. The sacrifice so entailed is a sacrifice of pride in all its forms. Like malleable clay in the hands of a skilled potter, the brokenhearted can be molded and shaped in the hands of the Master.
The spiritual awakening and conviction we experience is what draws us toward God. It is what brings us into that place of humility. Being crushed, humiliated, ashamed, and completely broken; our realization comes when we must turn our hearts, minds, and soul over to God.
In the Book of Mormon the story of the people of … Limhi can teach us an important principle regarding “Becoming mighty unto the power of deliverance.” Limhi and his people were in bondage and had tried several times to free themselves by going to war. Each time they lost the battle and were brought low by the Lamanites. They had to turn to the Lord and “…humble themselves even in the depth of humility, and they did cry mightily to God… that he would deliver them out of their afflictions. And now the Lord was slow to hear their cry because of their iniquities; nevertheless, the Lord did hear their cries, and began to soften the hearts of the Lamanites…” (Mosiah 21:14-15, Emphasis added). Later they were inspired to give strong drinks to their guards and were able to escape.
Many times have we attempted to battle our compulsory behaviors. And, many times have we failed miserably. Each person who came into treatment has a common thread to their story,
- I’m tired of using.
- I feel defeated.
- If I don’t do something then I’m going to end up dying.”
- I’ve ruined my life and have nothing else
It is this moment of deep and reflective realization that empowers and motivates need for change. Like Limhi’s people, substance use, toxic relationships, eating disorders, sexual integrity issues, gambling, and all other compulsory behaviors brings us into a place of our own personal captivity and bondage. The more we struggle to fix our problems in order to move toward a life of health and wellness where there is meaning and purpose becomes futile efforts.
By coming to the place of realizing:
- I am powerless over my present condition, behavior, attitudes, and emotions.
- This has caused my life to become unmanageable in all aspects.
- I am in need of something greater than myself to help me restore my life back to a sense of purpose and meaning.
- Understanding that I need to voluntarily give my life and will over to God’s divine and providential care will.
a person has come to a place where God has prepared their heart, mind, and soul to engage in the necessary process of change. They also have prepared themselves, through spiritual conviction and awakening, of their need and dependency upon God.
Because, spiritual awakening and conviction does not come from us. This comes directly from God Himself. Take note of what Nephi writes: “…whom he hath chosen…” This is because we all are chosen to come out of the destruction and captivity that has ensnared us.
Sincere and Genuine Deep Humility
Pastor Christopher Rich of Damascus Road Church preached the following sermon – Reframing Life John 2:1-12. In his sermon, Pastor Rich, provides a wonderful insight into the nature of Christ requesting the servants of the wedding feast to bring six stone water jars.
The Water Jars for Purification: (Symbolic) Mark 7:1-4 shows us the water in the jars was used to wash (purify) hands and feet on the way into the banquet and the hands before and after dinner. Jesus entering … into history as The Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world, with that there is going to be a new way we go from dirty with sin to clean. The old system was never sufficient to bring full joyful life or communion with God. By Jesus telling them to use the purification jars He is starting to show that God is doing a new thing in the middle of the old Jewish system. Jesus comes to bring promised purification to Israel and will ultimately bring purification and newness to all who will receive Him. The empty jars of Judaism were filled to the brim when Jesus came. All that the law could not fulfill were fulfilled in Jesus. Jesus brings life to what is empty and useless.
Pastor Rich is not alone in this observation. LDS Living posts this article – Why Was Christ’s First Miracle Turning Water Into Wine? Powerful Insights into This Crucial Event:
Yet Jesus chose those murky, filthy, bacteria-laced water pots for this miracle, and asked the servants to fill them to the brim. Using His divine power, He turned water from those unclean vessels into the finest, best wine of the night (see John 2:10). And therein lies the heavenly lesson: Jesus used the miracle of turning water into wine to send the profound message that He had the power to change the very nature of things—to transform not just the state of liquids, but the state of lives.
Like these vessels that were used for washing and purification, many of us have become murky, filthy, and spiritually destitute. And, in order for us to be filled with new wine, we must empty ourselves completely. This is where genuine and sincere humility comes into our spiritual growth. As we come to realize our need for change, our need for God to intervene, and our need for a newness of life, we come to realize how God makes us mighty unto the power of deliverance.
And, it all begins with our faith in God. This is how we are brought to the path of recovery. Through our faith, we come to embrace those individualized and personal spiritual blessings whereby we receive the necessary strength, comfort, guidance, wisdom, protection, consolation, loving-kindness, and all other spiritual blessings.
Action Steps – What you are able to implement for your personal recovery
1 – Focus on preparing yourself (mind, body, and soul) in seeking personal and divine revelation from God
Establish a daily routine where you have some time for prayer and meditation. Typically, this is a time where you dedicate about 15 to 20 minutes by mindfully reading and meditating on scripture passages. If you are uncertain where to start for daily devotions, you are more than welcome to check out the daily scripture devotions that I publish here. There are a variety of daily devotions online that I also recommend. Our Daily Bread and My Utmost for His Highest are two places to begin.
It is also a good idea to establish some time in reading through the scriptures. You are welcome to engage in reading through the Bible for this year by subscribing to Damascus Way Recovery. Along with the daily devotions, there are short inspirational commentaries regarding the days reading.
There are also a variety of resources online to help you develop your own personalized scripture reading plans. Bible Gateway, Bible Study Tools, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are some of the resources available. All have apps for Android or Apple. However, for me, there is nothing like having a set of scriptures on hand to read through.
2 – Embrace and experience the ordinary and not expect the extraordinary
Mindfulness is the key here. Many times we defeat ourselves with the expectation of experiencing some extraordinary spiritual insight. That does not mean these events do not happen. It means we need to gauge our expectations and bring ourselves into a present-focused mindset.
While God is the God of the extraordinary miracles and events: Our Heavenly Father is really more about us experiencing Him in the ordinary day-to-day life. Training ourselves to be present-focused is challenging. This is especially true for many Western Civilized Christians. The very concept of mindfulness and mindful spiritual experience in daily routines is quite foreign to us.
Thich Nhat Hahn expresses simple mindfulness in his work – Present Moment Wonderful Moment: Mindfulness Verses for Daily Living – where he expresses how one is able to be mindful while accomplishing ordinary tasks:
To my mind, the idea that doing dishes is unpleasant can occur to us only when we are not doing them. Once we are standing in front of the sink with our sleeves rolled up and our hands in warm water, it is really not bad at all. I enjoy taking my time with each dish, being fully aware of the dish, the water, and each movement of my hands. I know that if I hurry in order to go and have dessert, the time will be unpleasant, not worth living. That would be a pity, for every second of life is a miracle. The dishes themselves and the fact that I am here washing them are miracles!
3 – Maintain a Reflective Journal to Capture and Report Your Personal Daily Experiences
The best way to begin seeing the spiritual growth occurring in our lives is to take a moment and reflectively write out our personal daily experiences. This helps us process the events of the day. This reflective writing experience becomes our own personal scriptures that contain our personal revelations and spiritual lessons we have learned in the course of our days.
Unlike a Dear Diary or Journal, we are engaged in a style of writing that is a learning exercise in which we express in writing our understanding of, reflections on, response to or analysis of an event, experience or concept. I typically have three types of Moleskin’s. One for Church services and sermons where I write out my own reflective thoughts and personal insights I’m receiving from the speaker. The second is more of my own personal scripture studies where I write out my own personal reflective thoughts, understandings, and inspirations garnered from the sacred texts. Third, a designated journal for my own personal reflective writing on the day-to-day experiences, insights, and analysis of what happened.
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