We are talking
about the 12 steps. The 12 steps has done more to help people
than any other program that I know of on planet earth. It
has saved millions of peoples lives, literally saved their
lives as we know that people have to reach their bottom
before they can actually experience the healing and the
hope and the power of Jesus Christ.
And last week
we talked about the first three steps which are summarized
with this statement: I can’t, He can, let Him. And
that’s how it begins, by us coming to the realization
that with Jesus Christ, with the power of God, we can do
all things. That’s what the Bible says. With God all
things are possible. If you have the faith of a grain of
mustard seed, you can say to your mountains move and they’ll
get up and they’ll move. And I can continue to quote
scriptures that encourage us and empower us with the presence
and the love and the mighty wonders of God’s miraculous
healing abilities. And He wants to heal us.
Today, I want
to take a look at the next steps where we begin the healing
process, which brings hope and joy and renewal into our
lives. Steps four and five, I’m going to put those
together because we’re going to go through the 12
steps in six weeks and not 12 weeks. And so the two steps
I put together are very important and they tie together.
Step four reads
as follows, and maybe you’ve noticed that I’ve
read out of a book the last couple weeks. The book I’m
reading from, I’m not plagiarizing by the way, because
I wrote the book back in 1991, it’s entitled, “Dump
Your Hang-ups Without Dumping Them on Others.” And
it’s a book on the 12 steps. Let me share the steps
four and five.
I will make a
searching and fearless moral inventory of myself. And number
five, I will admit to God, myself and another human being
the exact nature of my wrongs. Those are the steps. I will
make a searching and fearless moral inventory of my life.
This past week
I met a gentleman, very nicely dressed man and he had on
his lapel something that I’d recognized from my past.
It was about an inch long and a half an inch wide and it
was made out of solid gold with a diamond holding up the
lid. There was something I haven’t seen in years.
But it brought back some memories. Maybe you’ll remember
this scene. Galvanized aluminum. About yeah tall, about
that round and it’s a giant bucket with an aluminum
lid on top. You know what I’m talking about? That’s
what trashcans used to look like. Do you remember those
steel things that you would drag out to the street and they’d
clank and that’s the way trash cans used to be and
he had a solid gold trash can on his lapel. I’m thinking
to myself, that’s kind of an interesting thing. Why
would you want a solid gold trashcan on your lapel? And
he quickly told me that he used to be in the trash business,
at one time he had a thousand employees and I don’t
even remember how many trucks he had picking up trash. And
now he’s retired. I thought to myself, you know what?
In many ways I’m in the trash business. I encourage
people to put their trash out the street. And I encourage
people to dump their hang ups, to get rid of the sin that
they hold on to. And that’s what steps four and five
is all about. It’s about trash. That’s what
it is. It’s about trash. And the fact is that I always
have trash in my house. I can never seem to get rid of it.
Every week I haul it out to the curb, every other day I
collect the trashcans and bring them out to the garage and
dump them in the big canisters. Anyone know what I’m
talking about? The trash just piles up over and over and
And the fact of the matter is my trash piles up so fast
that I have trash hanging in my closet. Its clothes I haven’t
worn for years, literally for years and its trash, its just
hanging in my closet. I know that no one here would be guilty
of that. I could go into anyone’s closet and you’d
be proud to show me everything you have and I know I could
open every drawer in the house and wouldn’t find a
thing that you would be embarrassed about. Not. We all have
trash in our closets, we have trash in our drawers, we have
trash in our garages, we go to the store, we come home,
the first thing we do is we throw the bags in the trash,
and wrappers in the trash. And we’re constantly dealing
Same thing is
true of our spiritual lives. We’re constantly dealing
with the trash. And the trash piles up and if we don’t
take the time to take the trash out to the street, it just
piles up and it piles up and it piles up and it starts to
rot. And our souls and our minds and our spirits just collect
this trash and our lives just begin to disintegrate because
we haven’t taken the trash out. And this is the time
where we go and we gather the trash. We gather the trash
and we take it out to the street and we get rid of it, we
get it out of our lives. On the spiritual side, why are
we afraid to make our spiritual inventory? To take a look
at our moral wrongs, to examine our lives and list them
and say you know, I failed here and I failed here and I
do this and I do that, and we take this spiritual inventory.
It’s a real scary thing to do, that’s why the
steps literally says a searching and fearless moral inventory.
Well let me give
you something that may help you in that endeavor. I’ve
got your attention now. What am I holding in my hand? Can
you tell what I’m holding in my hand? Do you know
what I’m holding in my hand? You’re trying to
see the denomination? It’s a hundred dollar bill.
Anyone care for a hundred dollar bill? You like a hundred
dollar bill? Well let me see if you still want it after
this. Okay, anyone still want this hundred-dollar bill?
You still want the hundred-dollar bill. Okay, let me try
something else here. Okay, anyone still want this hundred-dollar
bill? Boy you guys are relentless. Let me see, what else
can I do to this thing? Well I can’t tear it apart,
that’s against the law. But if I was, and to glue
it back together or tape it back together, you could still
take it to the bank, you realize that, right? It doesn’t
matter what I do to this hundred dollar bill, it doesn’t
matter how ugly and how old and how dirty and decrepit this
hundred dollar bill is, it is still worth a hundred dollars,
right? I can’t diminish the value of this piece of
paper unless I burn it. And I’m not going to do that.
I’m going to put this hundred dollar bill back in
my pocket because I have a bumper sticker on my car. I had
to go to the bank to get this hundred-dollar bill. My bumper
sticker on my car says “driver carries no cash.”
I’m married and I have two kids in college. And no
matter what I do to this hundred-dollar bill, it maintains
its value. And the reason it maintains its value, is because
it’s backed by the most secured institution in the
known universe. It is backed by the government of the United
States of America. And as a result of that, that is what
gives this useless valueless piece of paper its worth. And
without that backing, this piece of paper has zero value;
it could be simply tossed into the fire and used to create
When you come
to that realization that the same thing is true for you,
that your value as a human being isn’t diminished
in one iota because of how dirty you might be, because of
how old you might be, because of how fat you might be, how
thin you might be, how sinful you may have been. Your value
doesn’t diminish one iota because that isn’t
what gives you your value anyway. Your value comes because
of the person who backs you, because you are a child of
the living God. This child of the living God, we can come
and we can confess our sins, we can ask God to wash us and
make us new, we can go to the bank and trade ourselves in
for a brand new hundred dollar bill. And He’ll do
St John wrote
a letter, it’s in the Bible. It’s probably,
it’s a small little letter, it’s easier to find
it by going backwards instead of forwards. If you go to
the back of the Bible you’ll find a book called Revelation
and you go back two more chapters and you’ll find
these words in the first chapter of John’s first letter.
It says, “The blood of Jesus cleanses us from all
sin. If we say we have no sin, we are deceiving ourselves
and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is
faithful and righteous to forgive our sins and to cleanse
us from all unrighteousness.” And here we have the
request of God to gather the trash, get the trash out of
your heart, out of your mind, get the trash out of your
memories, out of your souls, get the trash out of your family,
out of your relationships, get the trash out of your house.
And you can’t get the trash out until you first go
through and you collect it all. Open the closets, open the
drawers, cleanse it. And that’s what step four is
all about. We make a fearless moral inventory of our lives.
It takes awhile. And it’s painful.
with us when we face our pains? We allow the healing power
of God to come in to touch our sin and to touch our lives.
And once we gather all the trash, its time for us to confess
our sins to another living breathing human being. That’s
tough. And that is the process where we collect all of this
trash that we’ve written down, that we’ve marked
in our lives, our fearless moral inventory of honestly confessing
our sins. And we take it to the garage by sharing it with
another living human being. It’s really tough. Because
suddenly we revert back to this whole concept of my value!
Where is my value, how can I do that, what are people going
to think? What if my secrets are suddenly revealed? And
to confess to another living breathing human being.
I want to give
you an option today to consider calling our NEW HOPE crisis
hotline. We have a 24-hour a day hotline called NEW HOPE.
You can dial 714 and the letters NEW HOPE. And a counselor
will be there, will answer the phone. And you can share
with them your inventory, a listening ear. And as you share
those words, remember the words that we have recorded in
the Bible. “If we confess our sins, God is faithful
and righteous to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us.”
And we’re renewed and joy fills our hearts and love
is reborn and health is restored.
what the 12 steps are all about. So this week I want to
ask you to make a searching fearless inventory of yourself.
And then admit to God, to yourself and another person the
exact nature of our wrongs. And the results will be serenity.
And so we’re going to close with a prayer. It’s
called the serenity prayer. You’ll see it on the Jumbotron.
Will you pray it with me? 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 hardships as the pathway to peace, taking as He
did, this sinful world as it is, not as I would have it,
trusting that He will make all things right if I surrender
to His will. That I may be reasonably happy in this life
and supremely happy with Him forever in the next. Amen.