Posts Tagged ‘Surrender

15
Nov
16

A Jealous Spirit

When you ask, you do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.  You adulterous people, don’t you know that friendship with the world is hatred toward God? Anyone who chooses to be a friend of the world becomes an enemy of God.  Or do you think Scripture says without reason that the spirit he caused to live in us envies intensely?  But he gives us more grace. — James 4:3-6a (NIV)

The Holy Spirit wants you.  The Spirit of God is jealous for you.  The Spirit “envies intensely”.  God doesn’t want to share you with the world.  James was right to call us an “adulterous people.”  We carry on this adulterous affair with the world while God longs for us with a white hot burning love.  God will not settle for second place in our lives.  He will not sit idly by while we commit adultery with the world.  He wants us to burn with the same kind of love for Him that He has for us.  We are either His friend or His enemy.  There is no in between.  It is either friendship or enmity.  There is no such thing as being an acquaintance of God.  We cannot have a casual relationship with Jesus.  We must be committed and “all-in” with regard to our relationship with Christ.  Those times when we do dabble too much with the world (consumerism, materialism, idolatry, greed, selfishness, etc.) are the times when God truly gives us more grace.  He pours His forgiveness out on us to restore us to that relationship with Him.  Praise be to His Name for His grace and forgiveness!

In what ways are we tempted to “cheat” on God with the world?  In what ways does the world call to you to draw you away from God?  How have you experienced God’s grace and forgiveness when you needed it the most?

PRAYER: Help me, O God, to be fully devoted and “all-in” today. I have dabbled too much in the world. Forgive me for my adulterous nature. Thank You for Your forgiveness. In the name of Jesus, amen.

01
Sep
16

Repaying The Lord

What can I give back to God
for the blessings he’s poured out on me? — Psalm 116:12 (The Message)

I heard this Psalm quoted by Bono at a U2 concert back in 2001 in Indianapolis.  It is a profound question.  What can we give to God that He doesn’t already have?  What can we give to God that could possibly measure up to all of the blessings He has poured out on us?  The simple answer is: ourselves.

First, we can surrender our lives to Him in humility and submission.  I believe that God gives us a choice to accept Him or reject Him.  If we reject Him, He honors that choice throughout eternity.  If you don’t want to live with God, He’ll honor that choice.  If you accept Him (by grace through faith in Christ expressed in baptism) and desire to live with Him, He’ll honor that choice as well.  In accepting His gracious offer of salvation, we must submit and surrender to His leadership in our lives.  We must repent and turn away from sin and turn to God in total surrender.  We give Him our lives and He gives us His Spirit.

Second, we must recognize that He is the source of blessing in our lives and we give Him our praise, thanksgiving and adoration.  Romans says that to offer ourselves up as living sacrifices is our spiritual act of worship.  As we begin to understand more and more that everything we have is a gift from God, the more our hearts yearn to repay Him.  We could not possibly hope to repay Him with offerings of tithes and praises and with good behavior.  All we can give Him is the most valuable thing we “possess” and that is ourselves.  Let us take up our crosses today and repay the Lord with our very lives lived in His service and praise.

PRAYER: Father, I could never repay You for all of Your goodness to me. Because of the cross of Jesus, I don’t have to. But I want to. I want to express my thanksgiving and gratitude to You by the way that I live today. Help me to live a thankful life. In Jesus’ name I thank You, amen.

14
Jun
16

In Jesus’ Hands

Matthew 14:15-21 (NIV)

15 As evening approached, the disciples came to him and said, “This is a remote place, and it’s already getting late. Send the crowds away, so they can go to the villages and buy themselves some food.”

16 Jesus replied, “They do not need to go away. You give them something to eat.”

17 “We have here only five loaves of bread and two fish,” they answered.

18 “Bring them here to me,” he said. 19 And he directed the people to sit down on the grass. Taking the five loaves and the two fish and looking up to heaven, he gave thanks and broke the loaves. Then he gave them to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the people. 20 They all ate and were satisfied, and the disciples picked up twelve basketfuls of broken pieces that were left over. 21 The number of those who ate was about five thousand men, besides women and children.

When you read the surrounding context of the miracle of Jesus feeding the 5,000, it is amazing to think about His compassionate love for people.  In Matthew 14, we read the story of John the Baptist’s beheading at the hand of Herod.  Jesus, upon hearing the news that His relative had been killed, withdraws to a solitary place by boat.  People had heard that He was near and followed Him.  Jesus does not send them away.  Rather, Matthew records Jesus’ response:

When Jesus landed and saw a large crowd, he had compassion on them and healed their sick. – Matthew 14:14 (NIV)

What love Jesus had for people!  He was brokenhearted and I imagine that He just wanted to be alone with His Father.  But Jesus had a heart for people.  He loved people and despite His broken heart and emotional exhaustion, He took care of the people.  He put others before Himself.  That is how we get to Matthew 14:15-21.
It was getting late and the people were hungry.  The disciples were tired and they just wanted these people to go away.  They tell Jesus to send the people away to the local villages to buy food.  Where in the world would 5,000 men, plus women and children, go to buy food?!?  It’s not like there were 20 fast-food options along the way!  I think that the disciples were looking for an easy way out (just my nickel’s worth).
Jesus had other plans.  He performs an amazing miracle with so very little – 5 small cakes of bread and 2 little fish.  In the hands of Jesus, a little goes a very long way!
You may think, “I’m just one person.  What difference can I make?”  In Jesus’ hands, you can make a huge impact!  You might say, “I don’t have a lot of money.  How can I impact the world for Christ?”  In Jesus’ hands, your tithes and offerings can change lives for God’s glory!  Perhaps you’ve thought to yourself, “I don’t have very much time.  It feels like it won’t make much of a difference.”  In Jesus’ hands, the time you can give will have an amazing impact!
It isn’t about what we can do.  It is about what Christ can do through us!  If we will give our loaves and fish to Him, He can multiply them and make a HUGE impact!  Don’t allow the amount that you can give to the Kingdom to become an excuse to not give anything at all.  Give what you can.  Give God all that you can give and allow Him to use you and your time, talents and treasure to make a powerful impact in the world for the cause of Christ.
PRAYER: Lord, help me to give you all that I am and all that I have today. I’m tired and weary. I’m broken and in need of healing. I’m hungry and in need of food. Help me to trust You for all that I need. Use me to make an impact in the world today. In Jesus’ name, amen.
13
Jun
16

Your Invitation Awaits

Luke 14:15-24 (NIV)

The Parable of the Great Banquet

15 When one of those at the table with him heard this, he said to Jesus, “Blessed is the one who will eat at the feast in the kingdom of God.”
16 Jesus replied: “A certain man was preparing a great banquet and invited many guests. 17 At the time of the banquet he sent his servant to tell those who had been invited, ‘Come, for everything is now ready.’
18 “But they all alike began to make excuses. The first said, ‘I have just bought a field, and I must go and see it. Please excuse me.’
19 “Another said, ‘I have just bought five yoke of oxen, and I’m on my way to try them out. Please excuse me.’
20 “Still another said, ‘I just got married, so I can’t come.’
21 “The servant came back and reported this to his master. Then the owner of the house became angry and ordered his servant, ‘Go out quickly into the streets and alleys of the town and bring in the poor, the crippled, the blind and the lame.’
22 “‘Sir,’ the servant said, ‘what you ordered has been done, but there is still room.’
23 “Then the master told his servant, ‘Go out to the roads and country lanes and compel them to come in, so that my house will be full. 24 I tell you, not one of those who were invited will get a taste of my banquet.’”

What is the excuse you’ve given for not surrendering your life fully to Jesus?  In the parable of the great banquet, people made excuses about why they couldn’t attend this man’s banquet.  One said that he had to go check out a field he had just purchased.  Another said that he had to try out his new teams of oxen.  Another had just gotten married and was unavailable to attend.  The man who was throwing the banquet was angry because those who were invited made excuses.  It was a big deal to be invited to a feast in those days.  To not attend was an insult to the one throwing the party!  So the man who had prepared the feast tells his servant to go out and invite everyone in town.  It didn’t matter who they were or what they were dealing with, they were invited.  This was one big hall because after inviting everyone in, there was still room for more!  So the master sent the servant out into the countryside to invite everyone he met to the feast.
Jesus has invited everyone to His great banquet.  Many will make excuses as to why they can’t (or won’t) attend.  Some will be distracted by the things of this world.  Some will use work as an excuse.  Some will be more devoted to their earthly relationships.  Is there anything wrong with having things?  No.  But when our hearts are more devoted to our things than Jesus, then we may miss the banquet.  Is there anything wrong with working hard?  No.  But when we focus more on working at our jobs than working for God’s Kingdom, we are in danger of missing the banquet.  Is there anything wrong with loving your spouse, children or parents?  Not at all!  But when anything takes priority over Jesus, we will be in danger of missing the banquet.
Following Jesus is about surrendering everything to Him.  Those who thought that they were a shoo-in for the banquet missed the One who invited them to attend it.  So those on whom they looked down were the surprise guests who were welcomed, unworthy as they may have believed themselves to be.  God has opened His banquet up to everyone!  Will you accept the invitation?
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, I want to fully give my life to You. Help me to surrender everything to You today. Whatever You ask me to do, I want to do. Whatever You ask me to give, I want to give. I ask for Your forgiveness when I withhold things from You. Amen.
22
Apr
16

Idols

1 John 5:21 (NIV)
Dear children, keep yourselves from idols.
John abruptly ends his letter with a six word exhortation to keep yourselves from idols.  We tend to think of idolatry as an ancient problem.  We don’t bow down and worship statues made of precious metals or stone, do we?  Maybe not, but we do have idols in our lives.  An idol is anything that takes your worship away from God.  So what kinds of idols do we have in the 21st century?
  • Success is an idol
  • Money is an idol
  • Fame is an idol
  • Entertainment is an idol
  • Our children can be our idols
  • Sports is an idol
  • Church is sometimes an idol
  • Busyness is an idol

Whatever comes between you and God is your idol.  Whatever takes the place of God in your life is an idol.  I’m not talking about things that keep you from going to church on a Sunday morning.  I am talking about the things that take God off of the throne of your heart.  What do you spend your time doing?  Take a look at your calendar.  On what do you spend your money?  Take a look at your bank statement.  Do you spend time with God?  Do you use your resources for God?

Don’t let the idols of this life preoccupy your time and money.  Don’t let the idols of this life keep you from truly worshiping the one true God.  Don’t let the idols of this life keep you from growing in your faith and going deeper with God in devotion and surrender to Him.  Keep yourself from idols.
PRAYER: Father, I want YOU to sit on the throne of my heart today.  Be my King.  Rid my life of the idols that want to take Your rightful place.  Help me to love You more today than the things of this world that vie for my attention and affection.  In Jesus’ holy name I pray, amen.
31
Mar
16

Jesus First

Luke 8:19-21 (NIV)

Jesus’ Mother and Brothers

19 Now Jesus’ mother and brothers came to see him, but they were not able to get near him because of the crowd. 20 Someone told him, “Your mother and brothers are standing outside, wanting to see you.”

21 He replied, “My mother and brothers are those who hear God’s word and put it into practice.”

Luke 8:19-21 is one of those interesting passages that make you scratch your head and say, “What does Jesus mean?”  It sounds like He is being harsh and is rejecting His family.  He is not doing that, but is making an important point about the family of God.  Our biological ties are very important, but the ties that bind us spiritually are even more important.  Jesus made a similar point in Luke 14:26 (NIV):

If anyone comes to me and does not hate father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters—yes, even their own life—such a person cannot be my disciple.

Does Jesus want us to hate our parents, siblings and even our own selves?  Not at all!  Jesus wants us to love Him most.  He wants us to love God most.  Our ultimate allegiance is not to family, country or even ourselves.  Our greatest allegiance is to Jesus.  Why?  Because He suffered and died for our sake.  He gave up His very life on the cross to bring us the joy and hope of eternity.  Without Jesus we are lost.  Without Jesus we have no hope.  We have no promise of eternal life.  We are lost and dead in our sins.  Jesus wasn’t rejecting His biological family in Luke 8.  He was expanding His family to those who hear God’s Word and obey it.  If we are not willing to do put Jesus above everything in full surrender and devotion, we are not truly following Him.  Jesus has to come first.  Period.
PRAYER: Help me to put Jesus first in my life today, O Lord.  I cannot thank You enough that He put me before Himself when He went to the cross.  Give me the strength to put Him first.  In His name I ask this, amen.
21
Jan
16

MY Will Be Done

Why is submission and surrender so hard?  Why is it so hard to give up our plans and dreams and give them over to God?  Does He not know what is best?  Is He some sort of cosmic killjoy?  I know that God is in control and that He will always do what is best for His Kingdom and His glory.  These are the things for which I should be living and praying.  Jesus, in the Sermon on the Mount, taught His disciples to pray…

May your Kingdom come soon.
May your will be done on earth,
as it is in heaven. — Matthew 6:10 (NLT)

Even on the night before He was crucified, Jesus prayed that the Father’s will would be done in His own life.

Then Jesus left them a second time and prayed, “My Father! If this cup cannot be taken away unless I drink it, your will be done.” — Matthew 26:42 (NLT)

The problem is that I want what I want and I want what I think is best.  I want what I want NOW.  God wants me to wait for Him to reveal His plan.  I want what I think is best for me and my family.  God wants what is best for His Kingdom and His glory.  I want what I think is best for His church.  He wants me to remember that it is His church and He will do what is best for His church.  I am not God.  I do not see the big picture.  I cannot see what is coming around the bend, but God can.  What I want may seem right to me.  My will may seem best to me.  God’s will is best for me.  Now I must bring MY will in line with HIS will and wait upon the Lord.

When is it hardest for you to surrender to God’s will?

What is hardest for you – waiting for God’s will to be done or surrendering yourself to His will?

PRAYER: Lord, have Your way in me.  Help me to know and do Your will today.  Give me the strength to surrender my life to Your will and Your way today.  In Jesus’ name, amen.




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