The Surrendered Life
I have been crucified with Christ… —Galatians 2:20
To become one with Jesus Christ, a person must be willing not only to give up sin, but also to surrender his whole way of looking at things. Being born again by the Spirit of God means that we must first be willing to let go before we can grasp something else. The first thing we must surrender is all of our pretense or deceit. What our Lord wants us to present to Him is not our goodness, honesty, or our efforts to do better, but real solid sin. Actually, that is all He can take from us. And what He gives us in exchange for our sin is real solid righteousness. But we must surrender all pretense that we are anything, and give up all our claims of even being worthy of God’s consideration.
Once we have done that, the Spirit of God will show us what we need to surrender next. Along each step of this process, we will have to give up our claims to our rights to ourselves. Are we willing to surrender our grasp on all that we possess, our desires, and everything else in our lives? Are we ready to be identified with the death of Jesus Christ?
We will suffer a sharp painful disillusionment before we fully surrender. When people really see themselves as the Lord sees them, it is not the terribly offensive sins of the flesh that shock them, but the awful nature of the pride of their own hearts opposing Jesus Christ. When they see themselves in the light of the Lord, the shame, horror, and desperate conviction hit home for them.
If you are faced with the question of whether or not to surrender, make a determination to go on through the crisis, surrendering all that you have and all that you are to Him. And God will then equip you to do all that He requires of you.
WISDOM FROM OSWALD CHAMBERS
Jesus Christ can afford to be misunderstood; we cannot. Our weakness lies in always wanting to vindicate ourselves. The Place of Help
Mr. Nice Guy
The story about the nicest person who has ever lived
Does Mr. Nice Guy go to heaven or hell?
The most important question you need to be able to answer is… why?
Let your gentleness be evident to all. Philippians 4:5
As the enemy occupation of the Netherlands increased, Anne Frank and her family bravely prepared and then moved to a secret hiding place to escape the danger. They hid there two years during World War II before being found and sent to concentration camps. Yet Anne, writing in what became her famous Diary of a Young Girl, said this: “In the long run, the sharpest weapon of all is a kind and gentle spirit.”
Gentleness can be a complicated issue as we deal with real life.
In Isaiah 40 we get a picture of God that shows Him to be both gentle and powerful. In verse 11 we read: “He tends his flock like a shepherd: He gathers the lambs in his arms.” But that verse follows this: “See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and he rules with a mighty arm” (v. 10). Full of power, but gentle when it comes to protecting the vulnerable.
And think of Jesus, who fashioned a whip and brandished it as He flipped over the money-changers tables in the temple but who also gently cared for children. He used powerful words to denounce the Pharisees (Matthew 23) but forgave a woman who needed His gentle mercy (John 8:1–11).
While there may be times to stand up with power for the weak and challenge others to pursue justice—we’re also to “let [our] gentleness be evident to all” (Philippians 4:5). As we serve God, sometimes our greatest strength reveals a heart of gentleness to those in need.
How can you gently but firmly promote justice and mercy today? How does the Holy Spirit help us be both gentle and powerful?
It would be wonderful if after salvation, our lives progressed in a straight line of uninterrupted obedience to our heavenly Father. But that is never the case, because we all stray now and then. Jesus told a story about a shepherd who went in search of a lost sheep. While this parable is about the salvation of a wayward soul, the lessons in the story can also be applied to those of us who belong to Christ.
Even though we are held securely in the Father’s hand and will never lose our salvation, we can drift in our obedience to Him (John 10:28-29). But why would believers wander away from the God who loves them?
If a sheep takes its eyes off the shepherd, it can easily meander toward a more appealing patch of grass and end up far afield. In the same way, we might see a path that seems to lead to better opportunities. But as we follow it, we grow further from the Lord. We may not notice the distance between us and our Savior until we find ourselves in trouble.
Other Christians willfully choose to pursue their own objectives. They know their choice is wrong, but they rationalize the decision or blame someone else for misleading them.
Regardless of how we end up outside God’s will, we are responsible for the action that put us there. Though another opportunity may look good, the only place believers will find true contentment is in a trusting, obedient relationship with Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must keep our eyes on Jesus and guard against pursuing anything except His will.
“For the zeal of thine house hath eaten me up; and the reproaches of them that reproached thee are fallen upon me.” (Psalm 69:9)
After spending a few days at Capernaum, Jesus, His family, and His disciples traveled to Jerusalem to observe the Passover (John 2:12-13). The huge temple complex, rebuilt by Herod, had been turned into something akin to a religious shopping mall, with stalls and booths surrounding the outer court with vendors who “sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting” (John 2:14).
Ostensibly, these vendors were there to facilitate the thousands of visitors who had come to observe the Passover and offer sacrifices and contribute payment for certain vows and “redemption” fees identified by the Old Testament laws (Leviticus 27). However, the system had been corrupted by “heavy burdens” of usurious temple fees levied by the priesthood (Matthew 23:4).
Jesus became incensed by the open corruption and flagrant violation of God’s instructions, and making “a scourge of small cords, he drove them all out of the temple, and the sheep, and the oxen; and poured out the changers’ money, and overthrew the tables; and said unto them that sold doves, Take these things hence; make not my Father’s house an house of merchandise” (John 2:15-16).
What a sight this must have been! Just a small taste of the “zeal of thine house” (John 2:17) turned this one man into a flurry of power that stunned a host of vendors, priests, and temple guards. One day, “the wrath of God, who liveth for ever and ever” (Revelation 15:7) will be unleashed on Earth. “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God” (Hebrews 10:31). HMM III
Thus saith the LORD, Let not the wise man glory in his wisdom, neither let the mighty man glory in his might, let not the rich man glory in his riches: but let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me.
It is true that much church activity is thrown back upon a shaky foundation of psychology and natural talents….
We live in a day when charm is supposed to cover almost the entire multitude of sins. Charm has taken a great place in religious expression. I am convinced that our Lord expects us to be tough enough and cynical enough to recognize all of this that pleases the unthinking in our churches: the charm stuff, the stage presence in the pulpit, the golden qualities of voice….
I feel sorry for the church that decides to call a pastor because “his personality simply sparkles!” I have watched quite a few of those sparklers through the years. In reality, as every kid knows at Fourth of July time, sparklers can be an excitement in the neighborhood—but only for about one minute! Then you are left holding a hot stick that quickly cools off in your hand. TRA032-033
Lord, confirm for each of us as pastors our divine call, that we might indeed build on a strong foundation. Then bring conviction and repentance to any in our congregations who are judging us with the wrong criteria. Amen.
Nay, in all these things we are more than conquerors through Him that loved us.—Romans 8:37.
Lord, in this awful fight with Sin
I would not just prevail;
Against each lust so strong within
I would not almost fail.
Full, gladsome, glorious victory
Should crown the Holy War;
Lord!I would triumph well—would be
A more than conqueror.
Thomas H. Gill.
Do not try only to abstain from sin, but strive, by God’s grace, to gain the opposite grace. If thou wouldest not slip back into sin, thou must stretch forward to Christ and His holiness. It is a dull, heavy, dreary, toilsome way, just to avoid sin. Thou wouldest not simply not be impatient; thou wouldest long to be like thy Lord, who was meek and lowly of heart, Thou wouldest not only not openly murmur, thou wouldest surely long, like the beloved Apostle, to rest on Jesus’ breast, and will what He wills.
Edward B. Pusey
The only real relief is in absolute conquest; and the earlier the battle begins, the easier and the shorter it will be. If one can keep irritability under, one may escape a struggle to the death with passion.
Juliana H. Ewing.
“Blessed shall be thy basket and thy store.” Deut. 28:5
Obedience brings a blessing on all the provisions which our industry earns for us. That which comes in and goes out at once, like fruit in the basket which is for immediate use, shall be blest; and that which is laid by with us for a longer season shall equally receive a blessing. Perhaps ours is a handbasket portion. We have a little for breakfast, and a scanty bite for dinner in a basket when we go out to do our work in the morning. This is well, for the blessing of God is promised to the basket. If we live from hand to mouth, getting each day’s supply in the day, we are as well off as Israel; for when the Lord entertained His favored people He Only gave them a day’s manna at a time. What more did they need? What more do we need?
But if we have a store, how much we need the Lord to bless it! For there is the care of getting, the care of keeping, the care of managing, the care of using; and, unless the Lord bless it, these cares will eat into our hearts, till our goods become our gods, and our cares prove cankers.
O Lord, bless our substance. Enable us to use it for thy glory. Help us to keep worldly things in their proper places, and never may our savings endanger the saving of our souls.