Have you ever noticed that it’s hard to be satisfied? As human beings, we are chronically dissatisfied. We’re constantly looking for the next thing to make us happy. You can think about this in different ways; maybe you’re looking for a certain level of accomplishment or social status so that you can feel significant or a certain level of comfort so that you’re satisfied.
We find ourselves looking toward the future for fulfillment. Intellectually, we know this will never work. That even if you accomplish all your goals and solve all your problems, it won’t actually bring you what you are looking for.
And if you were asked, “Do you believe these things will make you happy?” You would admit you don’t believe that. At the same time, we still act like they will.
Part of the reason for this conflict between knowing the truth and acting toward something else, is that we are hardwired to look toward the future. We are goal-oriented beings. Fundamentally, what we are looking for in those goals is an intimate, deep connection with God. To be satisfied in Him.
The problem is that we won’t have that need fully satisfied until heaven comes to earth. In the meantime, don’t you think we have the potential to be more satisfied then we currently are?
Today’s post is a sample of our Celebrate Recovery program.
Rock Brook Celebrate Recovery exists to lead you to Jesus so you can find freedom and live fully alive in Him.
One thing that can best encapsulate this mission into one post is the Serenity Prayer. This prayer was adopted by Alchoholics Annonymous and encapsulates the 12 Step program. It was written by the theologian Reinhold Niebuhr and is used by practically every 12 Step group.
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.
Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next.
Who wouldn’t want that? Who wouldn’t want serenity? We all want to be in a place where things are just ok. Where we have enough, are enough and don’t need to keep on striving to be fulfilled. That our fulfillment comes with what we have right now.
The biblical word for this is Shalom. Where things are right inside us, between us and others and between us and God. Shalom is going to be a reality in heaven. We have the potential for more of that now. We have the potential to enjoy one moment at a time and live reasonably happy in this life. This is the vision that we try to cast for people in Celebrate Recovery. This is the kind of life we want people to live. So we pray the Serenity Prayer at the end of each recovery service.
Today, let’s take a look at Matthew chapter 6 and parallel some teachings of Jesus with the Serenity Prayer.
“For this reason I say to you, do not be worried about your life, as to what you will eat or what you will drink; nor for your body, as to what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing?” Matthew 6:25 NASB
This sounds extreme to not worry about food or clothing. What Jesus is saying here is not in a condemning tone or trying to tell us those things aren’t important, He knows we need those things.
What He’s saying is, don’t let the pursuit of these things consume you. Don’t let the hunt for the next thing rob you of life. Don’t let the pursuit being satisfied in accomplishing a goal keep you from satisfaction now.
Jesus lists these things because that was primarily what the people were worried about. What are you worried about today? Do you worry about how do you fit in the world? Your social status or aquiring the right things to feel comfortable? Are you worried that you aren’t contributing meaningfully to something?
These things aren’t unimportant, but isn’t life more than that? Because once you reach those goals, there’s going to be something else to figure out.
“Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?” Matthew 6:26 NASB
He’s showing us that the birds aren’t even constantly striving for the next thing. He’s saying that if God takes care of them, won’t take care of you?
“And who of you by being worried can add a single hour to his life?” Matthew 6:27 NASB
Does worrying make you live longer? No. What worry does is keep you from living, while you are alive. We get stuck in the future, trying to solve a problem or achieve a future goal that we just want to get out of the way. Being able to think into the future is called planning, but being stuck in the future is called worry.
Jesus isn’t telling us not to plan for the future, He is saying don’t worry about it.
By always living in future, we start to believe that once we get everything figured out then we will begin to enjoy life. All that does is continually push satisfaction and serenity into the future.
So he says: “And why are you worried about clothing? Observe how the lilies of the field grow; they do not toil nor do they spin, yet I say to you that not even Solomon in all his glory clothed himself like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which is alive today and tomorrow is thrown into the furnace, will He not much more clothe you? You of little faith! Do not worry then, saying, ‘What will we eat?’ or ‘What will we drink?’ or ‘What will we wear for clothing?’ For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things.” Matthew 6:28-32 NASB
That’s the first part of the Serenity Prayer. God help me to distinguish between the things I can and can’t control and not get caught up in the things I can’t control. Help me live one day at a time and accept obstacles to my goals as a pathway to peace.
Some take Matthew 6 to mean you should just live for the moment. But that’s not what Jesus is saying. To live for the moment is a pathway to addiction, when you try to get as much pleasure as you can as quickly as you can. But what happens is, you get accustomed to the object and you will need more of that thing to get the same level of satisfaction and your life will spin more and more out of control.
Jesus isn’t saying don’t plan for the future. He is telling you to not worry about the future. If you don’t plan for the future, who else will provide for your needs and for your family? Jesus says don’t worry about these things not because they aren’t important. He says don’t worry about these things because God knows you need all of these things.
To live a life full of serenity, you have to take up responsibility and add value to society. So how do you deal with obstacles that get in the way of your goals? The answer is not living for the moment.
Live in the moment, don’t live for the moment.
While you live in the moment, you have to live for something greater. Something eternal. The second part of the Serenity Prayer is about setting the right goals. When it says, “trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will…”
My ultimate goal in life is to surrender to His will.
“But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matthew 6:33 NASB
If you set the ultimate goal of your life as seeking the kingdom of God, then God is going to organize all of the other goals in your life. Hardwired into us is the desire to move into the future, not to be consumed by it in worry, but to move toward it. We all have an idea of what life should be like. We make decisions and build our lifestyle based around what our picture of how life should be.
Living this idea of a good life means we have to set miniature goals to reach the bigger goal of living a good life. But the problem is when we take one of our miniature goals and make it the ultimate goal. You can only have one ultimate goal. This affects addiction when you have an overly-conditional sense of serenity. When things don’t go your way, it creates an emotional pain that you don’t want to feel anymore. So we set up unhealthy ways to deal with that pain. It could be drugs, alcohol, Netflix, relationships…we all have some kind of life we want to live and we make decisions to move toward that life.
When your life is based on something temporary like your job or the way your kids behave, it can easily be disrupted. The natural response when the most important thing gets disrupted is to reach for something that will help us cope. One great thing to learn is how do we keep our serenity when obstacles come up and get in the way of our goals. It’s also a good idea to learn how to set the right goals, an eternal goal.
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal; for where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Matthew 6:19-21 NASB
If your ultimate goal is seeking the kingdom of God, making Jesus known to the people around you, then you’re not easily influenced by disruptions. This isn’t easy. No one has it all figured out. It’s a habit that you develop. T learn to live one day at a time, it’s a habit to enjoy one moment at a time, it’s a habit to know the difference between miniature goals and the ultimate goal.
The Serenity Prayer helps. Memorize whatever part you need to develop those habits. If you need more help than that, join us every Wednesday night for Celebrate Recovery or join a Step Study to live with more freedom and live more fully alive.
Check back on your discussion from last week. How did it go dealing with the pressure, problems and people at work and school?
Hear the Word
Read: Matthew 6
The Serenity Prayer
God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. Living one day at a time, enjoying one moment at a time; accepting hardship as a pathway to peace; taking as Jesus did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it; trusting that you will make all things right if I surrender to your will; so that I may be reasonably happy in this life and supremely happy with You forever in the next. Amen.
- What stood out to you in this message?
- What do you count on for serenity? What do you look to for peace when life is not satisfying.
- What do you run to when obstacles get in your way?
- What is your ultimate vision of what life should be?
- Close your discussion praying the serenity prayer and working to memorizing the first sentence.
Tell Someone Else
Who can you share this message with? Who in your life could you invite to go to Celebrate Recovery with you?
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