Simple Surrender.

Luke 5:11

 

When they brought their boats to land, they left everything they had and followed Him.

 

I am sitting on the balcony of my three-bedroom condo in Gulf Shores, Alabama.  I am looking at the calm water of the Gulf as it hugs the white sugar sand of the beach.  My spirit has been expectant for this trip for weeks. The last two days have been chilly with the brisk northern breeze whirling relentlessly in an attempt to steal the joy that a trip to the beach would bring. In the midst of it all, I feel God renewing my strength and I see God revealing His will.

 

I feel like God also has a love for the beach.  Much of His ministry was performed around and on water; this word picture writes itself and calls us to greater acts of faith.  God woke me early this morning; I know the beckoning of my Savior because that beckoning keeps me on track and serves as my Guide.  I got out of bed and walked to the beach to walk and pray.  I began my walk searching for seashells; many were doing the same and we greeted each other in a nice Southern way.  I prayed and scoured the sand for a whole, un-cracked, un-tarnished shell to bring back to my kids.  When my quest was unsuccessful, I turned my attention to seek the Lord.

 

I have felt God trying to work something out in me over the last couple of months with the kind of refining He knows that I need to purify my heart.  I could feel in my spirit where my will and His will collided and knew He wanted to speak to me about the issue this morning. So I walked…and was quiet.  I felt like one of the broken shells on which I was stepping.  I felt like a shell that had been tossed and beaten by the waves and desperately needed to find refuge in the sand. When I became quiet, the whispering of God’s Spirit to mine became undeniable.  He spoke a message of surrender to my broken spirit.  In almost an instant, He gave me clarity and the His relentless pursuit over the last few months became apparent.  After dealing with the issue in my heart, I felt whole again.

 

Surrender.  This issue is not an option for the Christian walk.  The first disciples had to literally surrender their livelihood to follow Jesus.  Your desire and His desire for you is never the same because He wants to take you deeper than you are willing to go in your humanness. We are a nation that finds comfort in our routine and crutches of control while desperately desiring to be a part of something greater. Sex, gossip, money, comfort, depression, jealousy, bickering, judgment, and perfectionism are just a few obsessions that hinder our lives as vessels to be used.  God wants all of you so that He can make you whole in Him.  He is jealous for you and He will pursue you relentlessly until His will becomes your desire.

 

I wonder if you have felt the way.  Maybe you feel that the Lord is a loving God that is seeking after you quietly, and you are feeling the pull but can’t account for the reason.  Try one simple word — Surrender.

The dismissal of God? HA!

It amazes me that in our humanity some think that God actually abides by our laws.  We believe that God was dismissed from our schools and social events just because we say that He is not welcome. Some believe that just because we have a judicial negative stance on religion or Jesus that God in His might politely submits to the created as the wimpy Creator.

After the events of last week, I to stand and mourn with our nation. A nation that has excused God from almost every outlet looks to Him now.  Of course we do, because even in our self-sufficiency when the despicable happens we are desperate for Him.  We are desperate for the God of our origin.  You cannot usher Him out of the very soul He created.   You cannot set enough barriers to contend with His intelligence. If you think you can, it’s laughable.

The laws that outlaw God and religious things from courthouses and churches just represent the desperate need for Him in our culture.  When He says He will never leave us or forsake us (Hebrews 13:5, Deuteronomy 31:6, Joshua 1:5) it is not circumstantial!  He knows that we are but flesh (Psalm 78:39) and that we will forsake Him, but His presence is in no way contingent on our actions.  He loves us unconditionally.

Here is a powerful depiction of Gods absolute power in Job 38.

God Speaks Now to Job

38 Then the Lord answered Job out of the whirlwind and said,

“Who is this that darkens counsel
By words without knowledge?

“Now gird up your loins like a man,
And I will ask you, and you instruct Me!

“Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth?
Tell Me, if you [a]have understanding,

Who set its measurements? Since you know.
Or who stretched the line on it?

“On what were its bases sunk?
Or who laid its cornerstone,

When the morning stars sang together
And all the sons of God shouted for joy?

“Or who enclosed the sea with doors
When, bursting forth, it went out from the womb;

When I made a cloud its garment
And thick darkness its swaddling band,

10 

And I [b]placed boundaries on it
And set a bolt and doors,

11 

And I said, ‘Thus far you shall come, but no farther;
And here shall your proud waves stop’?

God’s Mighty Power

12 

“Have you [c]ever in your life commanded the morning,
And caused the dawn to know its place,

13 

That it might take hold of the ends of the earth,
And the wicked be shaken out of it?

14 

“It is changed like clay under the seal;
And they stand forth like a garment.

15 

“From the wicked their light is withheld,
And the uplifted arm is broken.

16 

“Have you entered into the springs of the sea
Or walked [d]in the recesses of the deep?

17 

“Have the gates of death been revealed to you,
Or have you seen the gates of deep darkness?

18 

“Have you understood the [e]expanse of the earth?
Tell Me, if you know all this.

19 

“Where is the way to the dwelling of light?
And darkness, where is its place,

20 

That you may take it to its territory
And that you may discern the paths to its [f]home?

21 

“You know, for you were born then,
And the number of your days is great!

22 

“Have you entered the storehouses of the snow,
Or have you seen the storehouses of the hail,

23 

Which I have reserved for the time of distress,
For the day of war and battle?

24 

“Where is the way that the light is divided,
Or the east wind scattered on the earth?

25 

“Who has cleft a channel for the flood,
Or a way for the thunderbolt,

26 

To bring rain on a land without [g]people,
On a desert without a man in it,

27 

To satisfy the waste and desolate land
And to make the [h]seeds of grass to sprout?

28 

“Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?

29 

“From whose womb has come the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who has given it birth?

30 

“Water [i]becomes hard like stone,
And the surface of the deep is imprisoned.

31 

“Can you bind the chains of the Pleiades,
Or loose the cords of Orion?

32 

“Can you lead forth a [j]constellation in its season,
And guide the Bear with her [k]satellites?

33 

“Do you know the ordinances of the heavens,
Or fix their rule over the earth?

34 

“Can you lift up your voice to the clouds,
So that an abundance of water will cover you?

35 

“Can you send forth lightnings that they may go
And say to you, ‘Here we are’?

36 

“Who has put wisdom in the innermost being
Or given understanding to the [l]mind?

37 

“Who can count the clouds by wisdom,
Or tip the water jars of the heavens,

38 

When the dust hardens into a mass
And the clods stick together?

39 

“Can you hunt the prey for the lion,
Or satisfy the appetite of the young lions,

40 

When they crouch in their dens
And lie in wait in their lair?

41 

“Who prepares for the raven its nourishment
When its young cry to God
And wander about without food?

 

I drove my 1st grader to school today and prayed with her harder than normal days kissed her more times than usual and left her in the hands of the God that loves her more than I do.  Of course as she walked into school, I couldn’t help but tear up knowing the wonderful families that wouldn’t get that chance today.

We, as the church must be called to action, not passively sit by and watch the decline of God being socially accepted.  We must engage in our culture as citizens that care enough about our peers that no amount of rejection from them will stop our mission to show them Christ.  What these families need right now is our great Comforter.

Church will you rise up or hide your face?

I’m thankful for healing.

I woke up this morning so expectant during my time with the Lord.  I regularly sit with Bible open studying the priceless pages of scripture begging God to speak to me. I need Him. This morning He spoke as usual a word that blew me away.

These past few years have been trying. I am not just speaking personally, but for the countless that have lost jobs, lost loved ones, dealt with sickness, are wondering how to put Christmas presents under the tree, felt the sting of sin, and felt the desertion of those that presented as friends.  We are a wounded generation.  The spiritually tried and wounded lay on this battleground we call faith waiting for a medic. Our souls are searching for salve to calm our anxious spirits and our bleeding emotions.

I know the pain that runs so deep emotionally your body aches. In my history, I have laid limp on the floor of my love-extinct house destitute of strength.  However, that is when I found Strength….the Strength that is eternal, the strength that is never weak. The word tired is NOT ONE of God’s attributes.  Some of you have been searching for hope.  You present as strong on the outside, you look good, but when you get in your car or are alone in your dorm or house, tears flow.

Today–I am thankful for healing.

Psalm 71 was the passage of scripture God brought me back to today.  This passage of scripture I clung to more than a decade ago.  Specifically, Psalm 71:20-21, You who have shown me many troubles and distresses WILL REVIVE ME AGAIN, and you will bring me up again from the depths of the earth. May you increase my greatness and turn to comfort me.

I read this passage this morning recounting the past decade of my life.  Abuse, rejection, isolation, divorce, court battles, layoffs, being broke, sickness, have been just a few things that have plagued my decade, BUT HE HAS REVIVED ME AGAIN.

As I studied this passage God brought me to Hosea 6:1

Come, let us return to the Lord. FOR HE HAS TORN US, but HE WILL HEAL US, HE HAS WOUNDED US, BUT HE WILL BANDAGE US.

He is the Bandage.  His bandage not only covers the wound, but it renews the soul.

Here me, He desperately loves you.  I sat in tears this morning reading the tear stained Bible I cannot live without and looked up at my husband and said, “God loves me.”  Your  wound is never too deep or never too secret.

Many of you may be asking, “I know I need God healing from my past, but how do I do that?”  Luke 8:50b, Do not be afraid any longer, ONLY BELIEVE, and she will be made well.  The answer is not some super deep secret that no one can understand but pastors and theologians, the answer is simple.  God loves us so much that He made His way so simple.  We think His way is so difficult and we have to have a degree in ministry to know spiritual truths.  For someone that has been to bible college, let me say this, that is a lie.  Don’t get me wrong, I LOVE BIBLE COLLEGE!!!!  However, you don’t need a degree to experience God’s truth.  You need a willing and surrendered spirit.

Practically, get alone with God and ask Him to speak.  Even if you have never tried it, tell Him your hurts, open the Bible and ask Him to begin the healing process through His word.  That’s how I started and it has changed my life.  Just one verse of practical truth that is personal to you will change your thought processes.

If God has healed you today from your history, take some time to thank Him. In this week where we focus on thankfulness and what God has given us thank Him for the tangible gift of healing. I never want to be like the leper that didn’t return to Jesus to thank Him for His healing power. His healing power for my past sin drives me every day to reach someone that needs it. I cannot live my life without be intentional about sharing the hope found in Jesus.  It would be tragic if I was healed and didn’t share with someone else where the healing came from.  I have been asked several times, “Where does your passion come from?”  My answer, if you have truly experienced a touch from the Savior YOU CAN NEVER BE THE SAME.

 

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Sacrifice, obedience or both?

Psalm 51:16

For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it;

You are not pleased with burnt offering.

17

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit;

A broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise.

 

True joy that endures the test of time comes from audacious obedience.  Obedience that defies logic, circumstance, and practicality is often a requirement to grow in intimacy with our Father.  But, when you throw around the word “obey”, people begin to get a little squirmy in their seat.  Our humanity doesn’t like to be told as an adult to obey God.  We internalize thoughts such as, “I’m grown; I know what’s right for me,” or “I’m smart and that just doesn’t make sense.”  Not obeying is normally justified by rebellion.  However, not obeying what God has clearly asked of you always brings misery, frustration, and confusion.

 

For example, we live in a world today that WILL be quick to sacrifice. I see people giving money to amazing organizations or spending countless amounts of hours volunteering for churches and ministries.  We see commercials on how to care for abandoned pets or feed children and we are very quick to do so.  Our emotion muscle gets flexed and we sacrifice for things where we believe we can make a difference.  However, we forget that in the middle of doing great things, the best thing for us to do is what God tells us to do.  For instance, is God pleased if you sacrifice to go on a missions trip, but are sexually active with your boyfriend before you go and after you come back? OUCH, I know that hit a nerve. Some of us fight the call of ministering on our lives and justify it by saying God’s call is just for preachers, when the Bible clearly tells us in Matthew 28:19 to go and make disciples.  I ask you — when was the last time you told someone about Jesus?  God is pleased with our sacrifice ONLY when we are obedient. Sacrifice without obedience is self-serving and self-promoting.

 

I, myself, have been one of the biggest offenders on this very subject.  Fourteen years ago, I was super sacrificial.  I was at church in all the plays and living what looked like a life that was sold out for the Lord, but when God told me to break off the engagement to the man I was going to marry, I ignored it.  God kept sending me ways and reasons to break off the engagement, but I didn’t do it.  My rebellion justified my actions for moving forward with the wedding and it got me divorced not three years later.  If I would have stopped busying myself with the “sacrificial” things I was doing for the Lord and solely focused on my relationship with Him, I would never have had to endure the corrupt things in my past.

When God speaks, it’s because He loves us.  I get so mad at people thinking that God is sitting and waiting for you to screw up to bring judgment on you!  God ADORES YOU!!!!  He desperately wants the best for you. He is your biggest Cheerleader and your strongest Advocate!  When He asks you to do something, know for sure He knows what is best.  I challenge you to trust Him.  His way is easy and burden so light.  Trust Him, sweet reader.