Tag Archives: surrender

Job 19-22; 1 John 5

1 John 5:1-5 (NIV)

Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ is born of God, and everyone who loves the father loves his child as well. This is how we know that we love the children of God: by loving God and carrying out his commands. In fact, this is love for God: to keep his commands. And his commands are not burdensome, for everyone born of God overcomes the world. This is the victory that has overcome the world, even our faith.  Who is it that overcomes the world? Only the one who believes that Jesus is the Son of God.

This chapter challenges me in so many ways. As I read through it, so many questions fill my heart and my mind.

Am I loving God’s children? It’s so easy to become frustrated and irritated with fellow believers due to various wrong expectations and selfish motives. Here I must ask myself, am I showing my brothers and sisters in Christ love through patience, kindness, and prayer? Am I showing that I love them in the way that I speak of them and with them?

Am I loving God? The evidence of my love for God is in my obedience. Am I choosing to do the right thing at the right time regardless of how I feel? Am I making my relationship with God a priority through prayer and study? Am I interacting with others in a way that glorifies God? Am I sharing His good news with those around me? Am I walking in integrity, honesty, and proving myself to be His child in what I say and do?

Are God’s commands burdensome to me? Or do I recognize the benefit of obedience and find joy in serving Him even when I find it challenging? Do I complain when I must love others? Do I get angry and resentful when God asks me to serve? Am I hiding from sharing Him with others because I’m afraid of what they will think of me?

 Am I overcoming the world, or is the world overcoming me? Have I let myself become fixated on myself and the world around me? Or has my relationship with God empowered me to walk in victory over my own sinful desires and the temptations of the world around me? Am I walking by faith or by sight?

Far too often I catch myself walking by sight, burdened by the things God asks of me, fearful of the cost of obedience, and as a result, failing in love towards others and, ultimately, God.

I especially find myself struggling during the holiday season. There’s so much going on, so much to do, so many obligations and demands on my time and attention, that I often catch myself trying to live on “cruise control” when it comes to my relationship with God. But when I fail to make my relationship with God a daily priority, everything else in my life begins to breakdown. His commands become burdensome, people become obstacles, and I find myself overcome by fear, insecurity, and the circumstances of the moment.

I know that if I want to walk in victory, I must be deliberate in my love toward God. As I make spending time with Him a priority, everything else begins to fall into place. People become opportunities. Things that were cause for fear are now material for hope. Irritating circumstances become a launching pad for prayer and dependence on God’s grace. And my life becomes much more victorious, not just in the big moments, but in the everyday moments that fill my day.

Father, forgive me for letting the world around me overcome me and overshadow my relationship with You. Forgive me for walking by sight instead of faith, fear instead of love, and obligation instead of relationship. I choose to make You my priority. Renew my love and passion for You, and let it overflow into my relationships and into my perspective of the world around me and the circumstances you place in front me. Help me to honor you by walking by faith in every moment, choosing love over annoyance, peace over fear, and joy over anxiety. In Jesus’ name, Amen.  

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Filed under 1 John, 66 Books, New Testament

2 Kings 6-8; 2 Chronicles 20; Matthew 28

2 Kings 6:15-17 (NIV)

When the servant of the man of God got up and went out early the next morning, an army with horses and chariots had surrounded the city. “Oh no, my lord! What shall we do?” the servant asked.

“Don’t be afraid,” the prophet answered. “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.”

And Elisha prayed, “Open his eyes, Lord, so that he may see.” Then the Lord opened the servant’s eyes, and he looked and saw the hills full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.

My father once said fear reveals that we’re walking by sight. It’s true. It’s far too easy to get caught up in what we see and to become overwhelmed as a result.

Like Elisha’s servant, I often suddenly find myself in some circumstance that takes me by surprise and seems impossible to overcome. And much like the servant, I cry out, “Oh no! What am I going to do?!” believing it depends on me to solve the problem.

But Elisha had faith, and he calmed the servant down by encouraging him with the truth of what was unseen – “Those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” And when Elisha prayed, the Lord opened the servant’s eyes to see what was unseen – God’s power and might that was at work behind the scenes.

Now I’ve never been surrounded by an angry army, but I’ve had plenty of other trials and problems that have felt just as intimidating. The temptation is to give in to fear and attempt to take matters into my own hands. It’s in those moments that I must choose to remember God’s promise that He who is in me is greater than the one in the world. I must choose to remember God’s promise to be with me and never to leave me nor forsake me. I must choose to remember God’s love that is working all things for my good. I must choose to remember how God has delivered me before so that I can have faith that He will do it again.  Ultimately, I must choose to surrender to God’s plan and stop trying to fix it myself.

In 2 Chronicles we see a similar situation unfold when Jehoshaphat finds out that there are three armies on their way to wage war against him. Overwhelmed, he gathers the people to stand before God and they cry out for help and direction. They remind God of His promises, and they beg Him for direction. And they refuse to act until He answers.

2 Chronicles 20:12-13 (NIV)

“Our God, will you not judge them? For we have no power to face this vast army that is attacking us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” All the men of Judah, with their wives and children and little ones, stood there before the Lord.

And God DID answer:

2 Chronicles 20:15-17, 20-23 (NIV)

He said: “Listen, King Jehoshaphat and all who live in Judah and Jerusalem! This is what the Lord says to you: ‘Do not be afraid or discouraged because of this vast army. For the battle is not yours, but God’s.  Tomorrow march down against them. You will not have to fight this battle. Take up your positions; stand firm and see the deliverance the Lord will give you, Judah and Jerusalem. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged. Go out to face them tomorrow, and the Lord will be with you.’”

As they set out, Jehoshaphat stood and said, “Listen to me, Judah and people of Jerusalem! Have faith in the Lord your God and you will be upheld; have faith in his prophets and you will be successful.” After consulting the people, Jehoshaphat appointed men to sing to the Lord and to praise him for the splendor of his holiness as they went out at the head of the army, saying:

“Give thanks to the Lord, for his love endures forever.”

As they began to sing and praise, the Lord set ambushes against the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir who were invading Judah, and they were defeated. The Ammonites and Moabites rose up against the men from Mount Seir to destroy and annihilate them. After they finished slaughtering the men from Seir, they helped to destroy one another.

God told them they would not have to fight the battle, but to still prepare for war. And so by faith, they fixed their eyes on God’s power and promise. By faith, they suited up and set out. By faith, they sang praises to God. And when they began to sing, God began to deliver. And God is no partial deliverer, either – true to His word, by the time they arrived, there was no one to fight! Instead, they were rewarded with treasures so bountiful it took 3 days to bring everything home.

A line in a favorite song of mine says, “Come, Lord, do what only You can do – You can do anything!” I’m so thankful that God works behind the scenes in my life. God works in my praying. He works in my praises. When I choose faith, I choose Him; and He can do anything.

 

Father, please forgive me for my tendency to focus on what I see, and what I can do. Forgive me for trying to figure things out on my own and take matters into my own hands. Help me to remember that You know what you’re doing. You’re in control. You’re working in my waiting. You’re working in my praying. You’re working in my worship. Lord, I choose faith. I choose to focus on You instead of what I see, and I choose to remember that even when it looks like I’m surrounded, I know that I’m really surrounded by You. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Filed under 2 Chronicles, 2 Kings, 66 Books, Old Testament

Song of Solomon 4-6; Matthew 19

Matthew 19:16-30 NIV

Just then a man came up to Jesus and asked, “Teacher, what good thing must I do to get eternal life?”

“Why do you ask me about what is good?” Jesus replied. “There is only One who is good. If you want to enter life, keep the commandments.”

“Which ones?” he inquired.

Jesus replied, “‘You shall not murder, you shall not commit adultery, you shall not steal, you shall not give false testimony, honor your father and mother,’ and ‘love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“All these I have kept,” the young man said. “What do I still lack?”

Jesus answered, “If you want to be perfect, go, sell your possessions and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”

When the young man heard this, he went away sad, because he had great wealth.

Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Truly I tell you, it is hard for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of heaven. Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God.”

When the disciples heard this, they were greatly astonished and asked, “Who then can be saved?”

Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but with God all things are possible.”

Peter answered him, “We have left everything to follow you! What then will there be for us?”

Jesus said to them, “Truly I tell you, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne, you who have followed me will also sit on twelve thrones, judging the twelve tribes of Israel.  And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.

Ah, how much of myself I see in this rich young man.

This young man was arrogant enough to think he had a right to heaven by his deeds. And if I’m honest, I have to admit, there are times when I fall into the trap of focusing on my works and glorifying myself. “At least I’m not like…”

Jesus was patient with this young man, and I’m thankful He extends the same loving-kindness to me. Instead of rushing to point out all of the failures this man was hiding, Jesus instead took it one step further and brought him to the heart of the matter – and He does the same for me.

It’s not about what I technically do or say that’s right. Jesus wants more than that – He wants my heart. And not just a piece of it – the whole thing. But I like to argue with Him. “But God, why can’t I keep this and have you, too? Isn’t enough that I don’t do this other thing? Isn’t enough that I do this good thing?”

The young man turned away sad when Jesus asked for His heart. It’s easy to dismiss this man as being foolish, but how many times do I initially respond the same way when Jesus reveals a change that needs to take place in my heart? “God, I don’t know if I can do this…”

But Jesus doesn’t apologize for asking me to surrender. Instead, He promises to be worth it. He won’t fail me, and He won’t forget me. You know what will? That little piece of my heart that I’m trying to keep.

For the rich young man, it was his money and comfort. For me, it’s control. For others, it’s a relationship. A habit. That one thing they don’t know how to live without. But it will always end in suffering.

Jesus offers a better solution. He offers Himself. And with Him, everything else.

“Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.” –CS Lewis

Lord, keep me from chasing things and people that won’t satisfy. Forgive me for seeing comfort and security in the things and people of this world – and ultimately, for seeking those things within my own heart. I know that You are worth leaving everything for. You’ve never failed me yet, and you won’t start now. Help me to remember Your faithfulness, and help me to persevere in following You above anything else. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

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Filed under Matthew, New Testament

Exodus 2-4; Luke 17; Psalm 88

Exodus 2:11-15a NIV

One day, after Moses had grown up, he went out to where his own people were and watched them at their hard labor. He saw an Egyptian beating a Hebrew, one of his own people. Looking this way and that and seeing no one, he killed the Egyptian and hid him in the sand. The next day he went out and saw two Hebrews fighting. He asked the one in the wrong, “Why are you hitting your fellow Hebrew?”

The man said, “Who made you ruler and judge over us? Are you thinking of killing me as you killed the Egyptian?” Then Moses was afraid and thought, “What I did must have become known.”

When Pharaoh heard of this, he tried to kill Moses, but Moses fled from Pharaoh and went to live in Midian…

Moses was clearly troubled by what he saw and he wanted to rescue his people. However, rather than seeking God, Moses sought his own intellect and decided to take matters into his own hands. It didn’t work. Instead of things improving, they worsened – not only with the Egyptians, as Pharaoh wanted to kill Moses, but even with his own people, who disrespected and challenged him.

Like Moses, I find it so tempting to take matters into my own hands. When I see someone else suffering, or if I, myself, am feeling overwhelmed, my gut reaction is to jump into action and attempt to work out deliverance for myself. The problem is that my thoughts and my understanding are tainted by sin and emotions that frequently are running out of control. Therefore my actions make things worse rather than improving the situation. I’ve learned that deliverance can only come from God’s hands, not my own.

Moses reacted to the situation by running away – again, I so easily identify with that instinct! However, God used the next 40 years to work in Moses’ heart and develop in him a humility and dependence on the Lord rather than himself. It was a tough lesson to learn, I’m sure – it always is. However, we all must learn it because humility is the prerequisite for being used by God.

In chapter 3, God spoke to Moses and invited him to join Him in delivering the Israelites from slavery. In a shocking contrast to chapter 2, we read that Moses began to argue with God about his inability to rescue the Israelites.

I’ve found that it’s easy to confuse humility with insecurity. I may think I’m acting humble when, in reality, I’m giving into my insecurities. Insecurity causes me, like Moses, to still rely on my own understanding, abilities, and judgment. Humility, though aware of my inability, doesn’t fixate on my failures, but instead trusts in God’s understanding, abilities, and judgment.

While insecurity causes me to question and doubt, humility causes me to say, “Yes, Lord. I know you are able; I will trust you to do what you say you will do.” And that humble surrender is exactly what allows me to begin experience deliverance and, ultimately, victory.

Father, please forgive me for believing the lie that deliverance depends on me. Help me to trust your abilities, your understanding, and your plan in my life and in the lives of those I love. I surrender to what you’re doing and will wait for your direction before I speak or act. Thank you for loving me and being patient with me, even in my failures and when I interfere with what you’re doing. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

 

Bethany Harris (drgnfly1010)

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Exodus, Old Testament, Uncategorized

Joshua 1-4; Psalm 143; Luke 14

When Jesus called me, He called all of me.  It all began when I was 12 years old and when I was 14, I completely surrendered to Him. I wanted everything God had for me, I wanted nothing in the way between Him and I.  I read the Bible everyday looking for ways to obey Him and follow Him just like Joshua did.  Joshua became a role model for me for many years.

Long ago I promised the ancestors of Israel that I would give this land to their descendants. So be strong and brave! Be careful to do everything my servant Moses taught you. Never stop reading The Book of the Law[b] he gave you. Day and night you must think about what it says. If you obey it completely, you and Israel will be able to take this land. – Joshua 1:6-8   CEV

My first spiritual dry experience came soon after when I was 15.  There was a long season of not praying and not reading my Bible – it seemed that everything that was relevant was not anymore.  In my boredom one day, I picked up one of my dad’s books called, Martyrs Mirror. It has a historical record of all the martyrs who had died for their faith beginning with the apostles and those from the early church.  Very early on in the book, probably the first five pages, I wept when I read of the passion of these early followers of Jesus and was ashamed that I had lost mine.

I remember to think about
the many things
    you did
    in years gone by.
 Then I lift my hands in prayer,
because my soul is a desert,
    thirsty for water from you. – Psalm 143:5-6   CEV

When I hit my knees to surrender myself, I gave Jesus my desires and my life.  It was then that I realized that I had really given Him my all.  It was never going to be my way, always His way and I realized that this was going to be the best adventure I could ever have. He had my life in the palm of His hand.

You cannot be my disciple unless you give away everything you own. – Luke 14:33

Father, You have never left me and You have walked with me in whatever circumstances I have been in.  You have seen me ashamed for having nothing, seen me embarrassed for being so small and little among others who know much more than I.  Yet, when I get on my knees before You, You make me feel like a giant, like I can do and accomplish anything because You walk with me.  I may not be like others, but when I walk with You, You walk with me and I am all that I need to be because You have called me to be Your child.  I love You for this and each new day is a day where I take Your hand and follow You. With a thankful heart.

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Filed under 66 Books, Bible in a year reading plan, Joshua, Luke, New Testament, Old Testament, Psalms, Uncategorized