After Surrender— Then What?

I have finished the work which You have given Me to do —John 17:4

True surrender is not simply surrender of our external life but surrender of our will— and once that is done, surrender is complete. The greatest crisis we ever face is the surrender of our will. Yet God never forces a person’s will into surrender, and He never begs. He patiently waits until that person willingly yields to Him. And once that battle has been fought, it never needs to be fought again.

Surrender for Deliverance. “Come to Me . . . and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28). It is only after we have begun to experience what salvation really means that we surrender our will to Jesus for rest. Whatever is causing us a sense of uncertainty is actually a call to our will— “Come to Me.” And it is a voluntary coming.

Surrender for Devotion. “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself . . . ” (Matthew 16:24). The surrender here is of my self to Jesus, with His rest at the heart of my being. He says, “If you want to be My disciple, you must give up your right to yourself to Me.” And once this is done, the remainder of your life will exhibit nothing but the evidence of this surrender, and you never need to be concerned again with what the future may hold for you. Whatever your circumstances may be, Jesus is totally sufficient (see 2 Corinthians 12:9 and (Philippians 4:19).

Surrender for Death. “. . . another will gird you . . .” (John 21:18 ; also see John21:19). Have you learned what it means to be girded for death? Beware of some surrender that you make to God in an ecstatic moment in your life, because you are apt to take it back again. True surrender is a matter of being “united together [with Jesus] in the likeness of His death” (Romans 6:5) until nothing ever appeals to you that did not appeal to Him.

And after you surrender— then what? Your entire life should be characterized by an eagerness to maintain unbroken fellowship and oneness with God.

by Oswald Chambers

Two Potatoes

Whether we’re flush or flat broke, we can rest assured in the One who always provides.
two potatoes

Two potatoes,” my wife said. When I met her eyes, she raised her eyebrows meaningfully and repeated the phrase. I took a breath, smiled, and returned to quietly eating my meal. Our guests burst into incredulous laughter. I had subjected them to a long rant about the rising cost of gas, food, insurance—just about everything. My wife had listened patiently but finally reached her limit. Now our friends wanted to know how two ordinary and seemingly random words could shut down my tirade. We looked at each other, she shrugged, and I told our friends about Pete.

The grandson of immigrants, Pete grew up hearing stories about real poverty from his relatives. Like many who came to America, Pete’s Eastern European family arrived poor, and they remained so for longer than they would have liked. That meant stretching food items for as far as they could go. In their case, they ate a lot of potatoes, especially potato soup. The emphasis in that name was on potato, since it usually contained a single spud.

Occasionally, though, Pete’s grandfather would come home with enough money for an extra one. That day, the soup would be richer, the dinner grander, and the fellowship sweeter. And the old man never forgot the “Founder of the feast.” His prayer of thanks always included the phrase “and for two potatoes!”

Pete took his grandfather’s lesson to heart, and “two potatoes” settled into his own family’s vocabulary. Through our friendship with Pete and his clan, we adopted the phrase, too. We admired how they seemed to see the world differently, and their contentment with their circumstances never seemed contrived.

That kind of contentment was foreign to me. My own life seemed caught in a cycle of materialist binges, of desires that were never satisfied. I enjoyed a very rich life, but I always wanted more, more, more of everything. So I bought what I wanted, whenever I wanted it—until my choices began to have a serious financial impact that shook me awake. It became clear that the siren song of consumerism had nearly shipwrecked my family on the rocks of debt. What’s more, I saw my own lack of contentment robbing us of opportunities to give financially and otherwise. I saw in Pete’s family an openhanded and joyful approach to money and possessions, and I wanted to emulate it.

In Money, Possessions, and Eternity, author Randy Alcorn writes that if we could see our way of life from God’s perspective—our “accumulating and hoarding and displaying our things”—we would “have the same feelings of horror and pity that any sane person has when he views people in an asylum endlessly beating their heads against the wall.” When we see that, our only way out of the asylum is through the door to contentment and into a “two potatoes” way of thinking.

The apostle Paul understood contentment well, despite a life that included both abundance and great need. When he wrote to the Philippians, he explained that he had discovered the secret of satisfaction. Paul said he had learned to “get along with humble means” and “to live in prosperity” (4:12). The experience of both sets of circumstances—and the assurance that God was out for Paul’s good in both—made it possible for him to imagine happiness in either. The same goes for us. If we can think only of the desire for two potatoes, one potato will never be enough. But if we can consider the possibility of having no potatoes, then one seems like a feast.

Paul reveals the real secret to contentment in the next, better-known verse: “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me” (v. 13). We can be content whatever comes our way, provided we look to God for strength. He gives it not only in the form of physical or mental endurance, but also in helping us to see our life as He does. It’s His strength that helps us say “two potatoes” whether we have one, none, or an abundance.

In our house, as in Pete’s, “two potatoes” has become a code phrase for contentment and gratitude. When our “First World problems” threaten to derail our focus, one of us corrects the other with that precious phrase. It is a poignant reminder that no matter how bad we think our situation has become, we already enjoy tremendous blessings that far exceed the best that most people in the world can imagine.

by James Cain
Illustrations by Jeff Gregory

The Sun

“Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:5-6)

This well-loved psalm provides us a glimpse of God’s creative majesty: “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge” (vv. 1-2).

Modern science has shown that the universe in which we live is really a tri-universe—a continuum of space/time/energy (or information). Thus, the first two verses of this psalm, by focusing our attention on “the heavens . . . the firmament” (space), “day . . . night” (time), and “speech . . . knowledge” (information/energy), reveal a scientific truth long before its “scientific” discovery.

There is, of course, one created source of energy which typifies this energy. Speaking of space and time, the psalmist claims, “In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun” (v. 4), which is further described in our text verses. The sun is like a bridegroom, fully dressed in wedding garb, radiating joy as he comes forth. It is also like a champion runner, fully able to run the race and gain the victory.

The sun’s energy, radiating out in all directions, not only energizes the earth but the entire solar system as well. Furthermore, it is now known that the sun traverses the galaxy in a gigantic orbit with its energy bathing each part. Truly, “there is nothing hid from the heat thereof” (text verse).

Only the Creator of space, time, and energy—the Creator of the sun, the solar system, the Milky Way galaxy, and the universe—could have known these things. That Creator, through the empowering ministry of the Holy Spirit, is the author of this psalm. JDM

I will walk within my house with a perfect heart

I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.—Psalm 101:2.

TEACH me, O God, Thy holy way,
And give me an obedient mind,
That in Thy service I may find
My soul’s delight from day to day.

AS far as human frailty will permit, each little trifling piece of duty which presents itself to us in daily life, if it be only a compliance with some form of social courtesy, should receive a consecration, by setting God—His will, word, and Providence—before us in it, and by lifting up our hearts to Him in ejaculatory prayer, while we are engaged in it. The idea must be thoroughly
worked into the mind, and woven into the texture of our spiritual life, that the minutest duties which God prescribes to us in the order of His Providence—a casual visit, a letter of sympathy, an obligation of courtesy, are not by any means too humble to be made means of spiritual advancement, if only the thing be done “as to the Lord, and not to men. EDWARD MEYRICK GOULBURN.

Learn to commend thy daily acts to God, so shall the dry every-day duties of common life be steps to heaven, and lift thy heart thither. EDWARD B. PUSEY.

Ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son

Ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son. 1 Corinthians 1:9

He received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased. —Behold, what manner of love the Father hath bestowed upon us, that we should be
called the sons of God.

Be ye … followers of God, as dear children. — If children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ.

The brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person. — Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.

Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame. — These things I speak in the world, that they might have my joy fulfilled in themselves. —As the sufferings of Christ abound in us, so our consolation also aboundeth by Christ.

2 Peter 1:17. 1 John 3:1. Ephesians 5:1. Romans 8:17. Hebrews 1:3. Matthew 5:16. Hebrews 12:2. John 17:13. 2 Corinthians 1:5.

I, even I, am he that comforteth you

I, even I, am he that comforteth you. Isaiah 51:12

Blessed be God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the father of mercies, and the God of all comfort; who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God. — Like as a father pitieth his children, so the LORD pitieth them that fear him. For he knoweth our frame; he remembereth that we are dust. — As one whom his mother comforteth, so will I comfort you. — Casting all your care upon him, for he careth for you.

Thou, O Lord, art a God full of compassion, and gracious, longsuffering, and plenteous in mercy and truth.

Another Comforter … even the Spirit of truth. — The Spirit … helpeth our infirmities.

God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.

2 Corinthians 1:3,4. Psalm 103:3,14. Isaiah 66:13. 1 Peter 5:7. Psalm 86:15. John 14:16,17. Romans 8:26. Revelation 21:4.