Archives For surrender

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Only God can transform a bad life situation, but His first desire is to transform you through your surrendered dependence upon Him alone.

Twenty years had gone by, and the day Jacob has been dreading is now upon him. He is about to run into his brother Esau. God has asked Jacob to return, and the last time Jacob saw his brother Esau, Esau wanted to kill him.

God is at work in Jacob’s life, but at this point Jacob is to afraid to just trust in God’s plan, so he comes up with a plan of healing himself. He is convinced that he can boost his odds of a successful meeting with his brother by the power of self-sufficiency. However, God has a different plan.

God’s desire it to transform Jacob by freeing him from self-sufficiency. God is looking for surrender and not Jacob’s plans. God is looking for complete surrendered dependence. C.S. Lewis once said, “Until you have given up your self to Him you will not have a real self.” God is looking to help Jacob find his real self that is found only in the surrendering of everything to God.

Try as we might, we can’t heal ourselves the way God can heal us. Self-Sufficiency must give way to surrendered dependency on God. In other words, you can’t be fully His until you are fully given over to Him. God has Jacob right where He wants him. Jacob has no recourse left but to rely on God, and that’s a perfect place to be.

In Genesis 32:24-31 Jacob is alone and wrestles with God until the breaking of the day. It’s not so much a physical confrontation as it is a spiritual battle where God is trying to give Jacob a new freedom. After a long match, God touches the hip socket of Jacob and Jacob is left in a position of utter and absolute brokenness and dependence before God.

Jacob declares,  he will not let go until he gets God’s blessing. Up to this time Jacob’s biggest weakness was not trusting God completely and trying to micromanage every step of his life. Verse 27 God answers Jacob by giving him the blessing of a name change.

A name change is a character change. A name change is a direction change. A name change is a purpose change. God changes his name from Jacob to Israel. God’s purpose for Israel has always been that they would bring the whole world to God himself. In one beautiful moment, Jacob’s plans are turned over to God and replaced with God’s purpose.

Jacob calls the place Peniel, saying, “For I have seen God face to face, and yet my life has been delivered. From that day forward,  he walked with a limp and a smile. He was now free because of surrender. How about you today? Are you free? Are you trusting God or trusting your plans?

Abraham had to lay down Isaac and trust God. Jacob had to lay down self-sufficiency and trust God. What do you need to lie down before God? It’s tempting to put off what you need to surrender. However, self-sufficiency, non-surrender and avoidance never brings healing.

Only God can transform a bad life situation, but His first desire is to transform you. God doesn’t want your plans He wants you.

Here the message, Surrendered Dependency Upon Him

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Caution! Looking over the fence can lead to cutting your chin. A better usage of your chin is to bow it in prayer, thanksgiving at the feet of Jesus. Bowing your chin in prayer and thanksgiving acknowledges Christ as Lord. Cutting your chin on the fence revels the desire to be the center of the universe and last I checked, neither you, nor I can run the universe. The call of the Christ follower has never been to look for what we already have. We have everything. We have been rescued. We have Him.

I guess looking over the fence started in the garden. God assured Adam and Eve that He had everything in control and hadn’t missed a detail. He even gave details about the tree to leave alone. Guess what? That tree soon became their “fence.” The enemy introduced a very seductive word. That word was introduced to get them to look over the fence. That word was, “surely.” The serpent spoke, “You will not surely die.” In other words,  the lie was, “You don’t have all that you need.”

Looking over the fence is a hard one to resist. We all want answers that fit with how we think it should be or how we think it ought to be. Therefore, we often think to ourselves, the answers I’m looking for are surely on the other side of the fence. After all, I can smell the barbecue goodness coming from the other side. I can hear the laughter of plenty. They never seem to hurt or want for anything on the other side of the fence.

Life always seems better elsewhere, but it’s not.  What is out of our touch, or inaccessible, often seems of more wealth than what is present and sanctioned in our life on God’s side of the fence. It seems to be in our human nature to desire what we can’t have, and at the same time despise what we have right under our feet.

I’ve often found I start looking over the fence when I stop ministry to God. Ministering to God is the safest place to be. When I totally surrender to the beauty of sitting at His feet, the fence has no power and the voices on the other side grow strangely dim, and my soul gives way to a song.

“You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies; you anoint my head with oil; my cup runs over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; and I will dwell in the house of the LORD Forever.” Psalm 23:5-6

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Is it just me or is there anyone else that worries about not worrying about what God may or may not do? When I’m under pressure, I tend to overlook for answers in my own strength.

At times,  it manifest in running every scenario that could happen, or should happen to the point I can’t even sleep well at night. Time and time again living my faith in this manner proves to be a big waste of…well…FAITH.

After all the time wasted searching in my own power, I always end up with nothing! Then it happens. God reminds me that I can’t do anything with NOTHING but He can do anything and everything with NOTHING.

Suddenly, deep in my heart I can feel a groaning of the Spirit of God praying for me the perfect will of God and then it happens; peace consumes me. Sometimes, when you stop looking, and you stop trying to figure it all out, God moves for His glory in your life.

The searcher of hearts is always looking and listening for the groaning of the Spirit inside our hearts. God is always having conversations and communion in our hearts. When there are no more words to pray, the Spirit of God intercedes with groanings at the intersection of ruin and misery within the Christ Follower.

You must share in God’s sufferings to share in His glory. However, suffering when complete gives way to a beautiful witness of His glory and that is enough. God uses suffering, emptiness and troubled times of unanswered prayers to build His character in us, conforming us to Christ, and prepare us for final glory when heaven and earth become one.

You might not get what you thought you needed, but you will get what brings Him the most glory. Sometimes it takes getting nothing to get everything.

Romans 8:26-30 (NKJV)
26 Likewise the Spirit also helps in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit Himself makes intercession for uswith groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 Now He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He makes intercession for the saints according to the will of God.

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I’ve have found that the worst thing to do with emptiness is to try and run from it. If you run from emptiness, you will miss the song.

Emptiness that is not avoided, causes you to ask questions you would otherwise never ask. Emptiness is not the valley of death, but rather, the valley of teaching and even a valley of Joy.

I once read, “Emptiness itself can birth the fullness of grace because in the emptiness,  we have the opportunity to turn to God, the only begetter of grace, and there find all the fullness of joy.”

In my emptiness,  I’ve established I’m often to quick to look for human help before finding joy and peace with God first. When I was younger in my faith I often found myself asking for help from anyone who would listen, and then I would pray and ask God to bless what I had just asked for.

Older and more mature now, I now seek the joy in emptiness and then asking is nothing more than breathing out from a place of assurance- no matter the answer to come. When you stop running from emptiness you are one step closer to hearing a creative song.

Emptiness was the starting place of God in Genesis, and it’s still His creative starting place in your life now. Give your emptiness to God and watch as He speaks, “Let there be!” Emptiness is the place God begins to complete you. Emptiness is a place God begins to sing through you. This is how emptiness sings!

Genesis 1:2 (NKJV)
2 The earth was without form, and void; and darkness was on the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.

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The object of obedience is God’s glory. When He calls you to obey Him, it is not about you. In fact, even the offer to forgive our sins is done for His glory alone.

Isaiah 43:25 (NKJV)
25 “I, even I, am He who blots out your transgressions for My own sake; And I will not remember your sins.

Psalm 25:11 (NKJV)
11 For Your name’s sake, O Lord, Pardon my iniquity, for it is great.

When we do all things for the glory of God, it shows honor and places honor where it rightfully belongs. Honor belongs to the one who created us. Obedience is the clear means through which we are able to point glory to God.

Submission is the first step to obedience. You must have a heart that longs to submit your will to the will of God. The struggle of compliance will always be there, speaking to you to find or ask for another way, but you must untimely surrender to the pure sound of His voice.

Each time I find myself over debating submission to what God is asking me to do, I think of Jesus in the garden before His trial and crucifixion, and I’m humbled and convicted.  He was (and is) 100% God, and He was (and is) 100% human. His humanness calls out in Luke 22:42, saying, “Father, if it is Your will, take this cup away from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Yours, be done.”

That moment of obedience brought matchless glory to God the Father, and it was and is a breathtaking example of perfect obedience. Perfect obedience doesn’t mean that all  struggles are absent. Perfect obedience is untimely your heart crying,  “Nevertheless!”

We need more Christ followers to be “Nevertheless” servants. We owe it to God, and we owe it to a world that watches our commitment to the one that we profess to follow. The opportunity to bring glory to God through obedience should be one of the foremost compelling motives for living.

I’ve often said, “Demons obey God; Nature obeys God, but humans struggle with obedience.

Obey Him unconditionally and as you do, you can be assured that you bring Him the greatest glory in doing so. Don’t let demons or nature upstage you.

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Do you have a life worth imitating? I once heard a speaker ask that question and it stopped my world for a while. I asked myself over and over that whole day, “Do I have a life worth imitating?”

My first reaction was, “no!” I could hear a voice coming from somewhere saying, “You’re not horrible but you are way to messed up for anybody to imitate.” I could feel myself giving credence to the voice of distraction. The voice was somewhat correct. I am kind of messed up.  I imagine you feel the same way at times.

Then it hit me. It was the Apostle Paul who said in 1 Corinthians 11:1, “ Imitate me, just as I also imitate Christ.” The great and messed up Apostle himself giving a command to allow others to imitate him as he also imitated Christ.

Imitating Christ is the key and not me being perfect. In Christ, I’m righteous and forgiving. In Christ, I’m a mess in the working. In Christ, is the only answer I have because He is the only answer.

N.T. Wright speaking about the resurrection of Christ says this, “The message of Easter is that God’s new world has been unveiled in Jesus Christ and that you’re now invited to belong to it.” You are invited to belong even as messed up as you are and you’re heading toward eternal life. When you understand that, you then can easily understand the necessity to invite other to imitate you as you imitate Christ.

Paul knew a perfect and freeing fact! Listen with your heart to what he wrote in 1 Timothy 1:15-16, “This is a faithful saying and worthy of all acceptance, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners, of whom I am chief. However, for this reason I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might show all longsuffering, as a pattern to those who are going to believe on Him for everlasting life.”

Now get out there and find someone to disciple by calling him or her to imitate you. That’s how disciples are made, and yes, sometimes it’s messed up and muddy. That is what happens when you get up closer with each other.

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I’m convinced that nothing in the hands of God can fall apart. He is the creator and controller of all things. His sovereignty can’t be thwarted. Now, I must confess. There have been times in my life, those first three sentences seemed like a cruel joke. I’ve had things appear to fall apart and fall to the floor of my life. I would say to myself, “How can things this bad happen to me- a follower of the Christ?”

I’m not sure how to answer that question perfectly, nor am I convinced I even need an answer for trouble finding me. I’m just sure God has not lost control. Ephesians 1:11 says, “…He works all things according to the purpose of His will….”

I find comfort by looking back on the last days of Jesus. Everything in the Gospel’s read like His life was out of control. His friends forsook him. He was attacked by loneliness. Those in power falsely tried him. He was physically and emotionally abused and tortured. He was crucified. All of this took place, and He was innocent.

No events in the life of Christ were beyond God’s authority. From a human view, they seem random; they seem like bad luck, or a case of being in the wrong place at the wrong time. However, that’s just not the case. God was in control at all times. Likewise, none of the events of our lives are out of God’s control when bad things are happening to us. You must not relate bad things happening to you as proof God is not there. He is the God that is never absent in your life.

Yes, “Bad things” happen to the lives of those who follow Christ. However, He has promised to always be with us. He is mightier than anything that comes against you. Psalm 93:4 says, “Mightier than the thunder of the great waters, mightier than the breakers of the sea–the LORD on high is mighty.” Yes, we live in a world where bad things still happen, but have hope, for God is at work in your life to accomplish His plans in and through you.

Romans 8:28 says, “And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to His purpose.”

Make It Right Today!

January 23, 2013 — Leave a comment

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Philippians 2:19-23 (NKJV)

19 But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. 20 For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. 21 For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. 22 But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. 23 Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me.

When God looks around His table of children, could He find a ready and willing servant heart in you? Don’t be too fast to answer yes! We all would like to think we would be the one that God would send, but are you sure?

In verse 20, Paul said, “I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for you state.” He said this right before he announced he was picking and sending Timothy. Paul’s difficulty in finding others was grounded in the problem that, “all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus.”

Timothy sat at the table of the Lord under Paul’s watchful eye, and he was found Faithful, Available, and Teachable! He had a heart that cared more for others than himself.  Timothy didn’t seem to mind being asked to move beyond his comfortable circle of friends to help others.

We are called to reach beyond our comfortable circle. We are called to have the same proven character that Timothy had. We are called to notice and encourage the unnoticed. In fact, in verse 13 of Philippians 2 Paul tells us, “for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.” The will of God is to go and do.

God’s good pleasure is to live a life that serves. After all, it was Jesus who set the example to follow. Jesus did not come to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many (Mark 10:45). If Jesus came to serve, then we must serve also. Any other attitude of the heart is lacking God’s best in and through our lives.

When God looks around His table, could He choose you? Read the opening verse again and drop your own name in it. Does it feel true? If not, make it right today.

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1 Peter 1:3- 5
3 Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! According to his great mercy, he has caused us to be born again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, 4 to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you, 5 who by God’s power are being guarded through faith for a salvation ready to be revealed in the last time.

His mercy for those who follow Him has caused us to be born again to a hope that is living and empowered by His resurrection. You are a person of the future, living in the now and sharing the hope of the future up close and personal for a lost world to see.

You are the promoter of an inheritance that can’t perish, that can’t be defiled and will never fade. This inheritance is being kept for you and for those you lead to the Lord.

God’s power is keeping watch of you and He is keeping watching over the future that is now and not yet. There is a day appointed; there is a day coming that you and I will be healed completely.

You and I have a responsibility to live our new identity in Christ so the world will know the way to true life.

John Wesley once said, “Do all the good you can. By all the means you can. In all the ways you can. In all the places you can. At all the times you can. To all the people you can. As long as ever you can.”

Now go be a promoter for Christ today.

Promote the future of Habakkuk 2:14,
“For the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD, as the waters cover the sea.”

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Luke 19:10 “For the Son of Man came to seek and to save the lost.”

If you are a Christ follower, you were found and rescued by God. The moment you gave your life to Christ, He started a remarkable work of salvation in your life for His glory. Scripture assures us that what He has started in your life, He will complete in your life as you walk in obedience to Him.

Salvation is bigger than just a heaven or hell issue. You do an injustice to the working of God through you if you limit the work of salvation to just heaven and hell issues. Salvation involves so much more than where you will spend eternity.

God rescued more than your soul. He rescued your whole life and He is and will rescue all of nature and the universe also.  He rescued all of you and wants to use ALL of you to reflect His glory to the world around you. Your entire life must point to His perfect future made complete at His second coming.

He wants to use you in the future, but not at the exclusion of the present. We are called by virtue of His gift of salvation to bring as much of the future into every area of this world as we can. For example, in the future there will be no more injustices. Therefore, where you see injustices taking place, you can act to correct them as much as possible. When you live in such a manner, you are living the future in the now and you are living salvation in its fullest sense.

Salvation is so much more than the working of God inside of you.  Salvation also includes God working through you. Think on that today and I will promise you that He will speak to you and open your eyes to see more than just yourself in this world. The gift of salvation is to be shared beyond a heaven and hell issue. We are called to live salvation in its fullest sense.

Leave a comment and share your thoughts.