It’s easy to romanticize the word, surrender. How many have said, “I surrender” while imagining some grandiose picture of enduring some sort of hardship for the sake of Jesus? It’s easy to utter those words in a church service when you’re invited to do so from the pulpit, or sing them accompanied by a sweet melody as you stand shoulder to shoulder with fellow believers. In the moment, there’s resolution to follow through, but, to what extent? When you say, “I surrender, Lord,” what exactly do you mean? How far will you actually go?
At their core, some will surrender up to the point of discomfort or the possibility of giving up something they value. “I’m laying it all at Your feed, Lord!” Everything, but what? When someone says everything, does he really mean everything, or is he still holding something back? Perhaps a pet sin or wound, or maybe it’s a prized possession or position. “I’m giving you my finances!” What would you do if He said, “Give away all your money?” Please understand, goading you into something is not the point of this writing, especially if it has nothing to do with the will of God. This is about self-awareness and knowing where you really stand for your benefit. Moreover, you should not be moved by pride, but by Holy Spirit. No one is asking you to prove anything. Let’s leave the proving process to God! By the way, He owns everything; so in the end, the finances were His to begin with, we’re just stewards.
This leads to another point: we cannot determine for ourselves what God may ask of us. We really do need to wait on Him to do the asking; otherwise, we’re laying conditions of surrender. And that may lead to compromise and manipulation. Not to mention, leading ourselves on a tangent. It would be easy to think of the what-if scenarios, and start acting on them as if God led the direction of those possibilities. And of course, that includes any personal agenda. To a degree, it can be based on a previous point: trying to prove we’re willing to submit to anything. The question is: what is God actually saying?
Speaking of manipulation: some surrender in order to fulfill their agenda, and that’s not true surrender. It should be unconditional if it is to be true. That agenda some are dearly holding onto, is holding them back from God’s best for them. They have this strange idea they know better than Him. For them, submission stops when things don’t go their way. “I’m following You, Jesus! Wait a minute, where are You going? I didn’t sign up for that! See Ya when You come back.” If they trust Him as they say they do, why would submission be so difficult? If you want to win, you have to lose.
Matthew 14:24-25Then said Jesus unto His disciples, If any man will come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me. For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for My sake shall find it.
Trust issues and strongholds (see 2 Corinthians 10:3-5) are two components that hinder submission. Deep seated hurts and false reasonings antagonize people to the point where trust is rather limited. Ask Holy Spirit to show you any area holding you back. This too requires a willingness to step into uncomfortable places, but He will go with you, and His grace will empower you to do what needs to be done. 2 Corinthian 12:9And He said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for My strength is made perfect in weakness. As a reminder, when facing giants, in Him you’ve already won!
Proverbs 3:5-6Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge Him, and He shall direct thy paths.
Do you really want to be happy? While many are in hot pursuit of happiness, they miss a key component to winning that game. It takes you beyond the vain pursuit of things that lose their significance five minutes after being obtained. The new house, car, boat, widget and gadget quickly lose their luster once they’ve been in use for a short while. How many have been disillusioned by the relationship which was suppose to make them happy? Hey, it’s not someone else’s job to make you happy! It’s an inside job. So, what’s the secret sauce? It’s found in the Bible.
Psalm 128:1-2Blessed is every one that feareth the Lord; that walketh in His ways. For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.
That’s right, without the fear of the Lord and walking in His ways, happiness is fleeting. Part of our design is worship, and part of worship includes the fear of the Lord and walking in His ways. In fact, without them, it is not really worship. When you subtract something from your life that belongs in it, you fall short of being complete or whole. As a matter of fact, foregoing the fear of the Lord is kind of stupid. Scripture makes it clear that it’s the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (see Proverbs 1:7; 9:10). If you lack these two, you fall short of being complete as well. We are in our happiest state when we are who we need to be for God. Of course, the Bible has a lot to say about being content, but that’s another lesson.
Believe it or not, one’s theology can interfere with one’s relationship with God. By definition, theology is the study of God, His nature and His relation to the world. By the same token, it takes the relationship to wreck our theology, especially if it’s unclear or flat wrong. It’s easy to use theology as some sort of spiritual filter to determine whether something is of God. The problem we face in that regard is some of our theology becomes our truth, and may not be true in the way God sees it. It also incorporates a person’s hypotheses about Him (“I think”). Some love to prove their hypotheses, which can lead to error and of course, debate with others. And in that sense, it can hinder our relationships with people as well. To be clear, not all theology is filled with error; and yet, relationship can help clean it up on a number of levels.
Holy Spirit is The Teacher. The things of God are spiritually discerned, which means we need Him to teach us the Word and His nature (see 1 Corinthians 2:1-16). By cultivating our relationship with Holy Spirit, we are more apt to receive from Him. And that also means we may need to unlearn what we think we know. On occasion, He may show us something that totally rocks our world; especially, if it differs from what we’ve always believed to be true. This is one method relationship wrecks theology.
Part of our relationship with God includes conversation. Unfortunately, some get stuck in monologue-mode as they pray. They do all the talking, but none of the listening. Whether this is a new concept or has been part of your walk for years, one thing that will help in the listening is turning off your theology filter. If you continuously compare everything you hear to your biblical understanding, you may disrupt the flow of conversation, and miss what the Lord’s telling you. Moreover, He may give you chapter and verse from the Bible, so you know it’s Him. Sometimes, He clarifies His written Word by the spoken. Have you ever wondered what a particular passage meant, and then out of the blue, He reveals it to you? Regardless of how He does it, God is faithful to confirm what He says. Speaking of the Bible, it is not a textbook to be studied like any other. It too, is relational by design, which goes to the previous point: it is spiritually discerned and requires Holy Spirit to understand it. An important consideration is the importance of being open and willing to hear whatever God has to say. And there is much that could said about this point.
If you approach life relationally, you’ll fulfill what’s written in Scripture. As it is written, “He that loveth another hath fulfilled the Law” (Romans 13:8). Think about this, we can study about what it means to be holy and righteous, which is a great idea. Without getting into that study at this moment, suffice to say, by walking in love we walk in holiness and righteousness. When we determine to love God and others well, our entire being will come in alignment. By default, our love for God infuses the desire to be separated unto Him and do what is right in His eyes. Love encompasses holiness and righteousness. Think relationally!
If you overemphasize a mountain you face, it may crush you. You would be giving it more power than it should ever have. If you physically look at a mountain, especially up close, its majestic view may cause you think it’s immovable, as if it is greater than His Majesty Who created it. Even the mountains of the earth are going to be leveled; in fact, they will be melted by the fervent heat of God’s consuming fire (see 2 Peter 3:10-11). Metaphorically, we can take that upcoming event (which is not a metaphor) and apply it to our lives. Even mountains must obey His every word.
Jesus said, “Have faith in God. For verily I say unto you, That whosoever shall say unto this mountain, Be thou removed, and be thou cast into the sea; and shall not doubt in his heart, but shall believe that those things which he saith shall come to pass; he shall have whatsoever he saith” (Mark 17:22-23).
In the Greek text, grammatically speaking, the position of the mountain is on top of you, which is why it could crush you if you were to allow yourself to be consumed by it. You never find solutions to problems you face by over focusing on them. In fact, it would appear as if there are none to be had, even when they’re in plain sight. Difficulties obscure your vision when left in that context. Have you ever been so overwhelmed by some circumstance, you forgot about God? Perhaps, in the moment you put it all on your own shoulders, especially if you were the cause of the ordeal. It’s an easy thing to do, so don’t beat yourself up if that’s the case.
Whatever you face, it’s important to remember that since you are in Jesus Christ, you face it from the standpoint of victory. Because of how often these verses get quoted, it could be easy to downplay Romans 8:37, “We are more than conquerors through Him that loved us,” and Romans 8:28, “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to His purpose.” The number of times verses of Scripture are quoted do not lessen their truth! Keep in mind God knew everything you would ever face long before you were born, and made provision for every single one of them.
For instance, He made the Ultimate Provision for your sin at the Cross and Resurrection of Jesus Christ. Some believers are so focused on their “sin-habit,” they totally discount Romans 6:14, “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (read the entire chapter for full context). It could be they never read this verse, or it never sank into their heart. God says what He means and means what He says. Let it sink in -believe it! The more a person tries not to sin, the more apt he will sin. Focus on righteousness, and you will go the direction of righteousness instead. Overemphasize your past, and your past will define you, instead of God.
When facing difficult circumstances, ask God for wisdom. Allow God to establish your thoughts. Be patient and wait on Him. He can give you quick solutions when speed truly is of the essence. So much so, that you may move so quickly, you wonder if you heard from God or were acting independently. Your spirit is connected to Holy Spirit, and the spirit is far quicker than your mind. Have you ever looked back at an event, and wondered how in the world you ever got through it so quickly? You hardly had time to pray, but you navigated through it without getting so much as a scratch. That was God! That’s being Spirit-led. However, there may be moments when you have to wait longer than what you are comfortable with. He may move the obstacle or give you direction. Either way, you already have the victory in hand, because you are in Him.
There is power in praise, as well as glory and honor to God. However, how many of us have come to realize it’s a privilege to praise? While Scripture makes it clear all who have breath should praise the Lord; in fact, it declares all who inhabit heaven are to do so as well. Many love to sing songs unto God, while others consider it a duty or religious exercise. Perhaps, it’s just something a congregation does before the preaching. “Let’s just get on with it!” Of course, the easy response would be to point out all the reasons to do this act of worship, after all, He indeed has done great things! By the way, those moments we gather are not mini-talent shows in which people show off their gifts on stage. Moreover, how much meaning do those moments carry if you don’t praise in private? If you wrestle with the line between pure worship and entertainment, or perhaps not wanting to praise at all, consider again this statement: it is a privilege to praise!
1 John 4:10Herein is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us, and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. We love God because He first loved us. Unless God loved you first, you could not love Him. Incidentally, your ability to love Him reveals He does indeed love you! If God never revealed Himself to you, you would never know He was there to love in the first place. God did not create us and then disappear from the scene, unlike some earthly fathers who abandoned their children. God is a Good Father, perfect in every way. He did not leave us to our own devices, nor did he leave us to die in our sins. He provided our Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ Who gave His life, so we may be reconciled to Father. None of this was our idea!
John 1:12-13But as many as received Him, to them gave He power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on His Name: Which were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.
Most have heard the saying: “Never ask someone to do something you haven’t done yourself or not willing to do yourself.” God exemplifies this statement. Before He commanded us to love Him with our entire being, He loved us. Before anyone could sing to Him, He sang over us (see Psalm 32:7). None of us sought Him out first, He sought us. Unless He revealed Himself and drew you by Holy Spirit, the thought of seeking Him never would have crossed your mind.
Some refuse to offer praise unless they get what they want or circumstances strike their fancy. They don’t praise Him for what He’s already done. They don’t appreciate Him for Who He is, and He is our Exceeding Great Reward. What or who could possibly be greater? They are short on gratitude.
While we are exhorted and even commanded to give God glory, it is not our right to do so, it is our privilege!