Don’t run from tests and hardships, brothers and sisters. As difficult as they are, you will ultimately find joy in them; if you embrace them, your faith will blossom under pressure and teach you true patience as you endure. And true patience brought on by endurance will equip you to complete the long journeyand cross the finish line—mature, complete, and wanting nothing. James 1:2-4D
Wednesday, June 6, 2018
Surrender - Loving, Trusting and Obeying God
I gave my heart to Jesus twenty years ago but for many years I struggled to die to myself and to obey the teachings of Christ. Oh, I professed with my mouth that Jesus was Lord, but truth be told it was and still is a daily decision to surrender my will and pick up my cross and follow Christ. Surrendering to God isn't easy and anyone who says it is likely has not entered the narrow gate that Jesus talked about (Matthew 7:13).
After all this time of believing in Christ, the human in me can still love my life more than God. It's been a constant battle to die to my flesh because for many years I identified more with my life story, my past pain, my hurts, my regrets, my disappointments and sorrows of this life.
I realize now how early trauma in my life really affected my ability to see the good God had placed in me. For a lot of my life I focused on the negative parts of my story, I saw myself as flawed and broken, which I was.
Now, of course, it wasn't just negative things in my life where I was finding my identity, it was the good stuff too, like family, friends, jobs, ministry etc. I found my identity in it all, in fact, this is where my worth was rooted, and I somehow knew to lose this would leave me lost and empty. I feared surrender big time! For so long I held onto all of this life with all my might.
You see, for so long I didn't fully understand who I was in Christ. I didn't believe that Jesus would die for someone so unworthy. The truth is we aren't worthy that's why He died! He gave His life for everyone so we could be free to love the Father more than this life, which glorifies God and draws others to Him. Once the blinders come off you see how marvellous a plan it really is. All of creation continues to groan as God's plan for humankind unfolds.
Of course, I wasn't alone in my endeavour to not surrender my throne, need I remind you that the enemy of our souls Satan doesn't want us to see the truth of who we really are either. That we were fearfully and wonderfully made to glorify God in all His creation. The devil knows once we realize all this it sets us free from the trappings of this world.
Oh my, has God been patient with me!
"True love for God and true saving faith is evidenced by obedience to the teachings of Christ, not just emotionalism in the heart. What we feel in our hearts is often deceptive (Jeremiah 17:9). That's why we must filter out thoughts and experiences through the Word of God." ~Michael Chriswell~
I've really had to humble myself and face the fact that for a long time I loved myself more than God. I've cried a million tears over the years at church or in my prayer closet, as I acknowledged my brokenness and my need for my saviour, only to pick it all up again and leave God feeling unloved by me!
Wow! How selfish thy heart can be!
How many times have I done this? Aware of my need to surrender my life but so unwilling to follow Christ's teachings.
Daily trust and obedience -- is the key to surrender!
There are many teachings of Christ that He gave us to follow. I had to ask the question - do I really know them, let alone follow them? If I'm honest with myself the answer is no, and truth be told this might be why the Church does not have the influence it should today.
If Christ came to teach us to love, then why do so many in the world feel judged, hated and not loved by Christians? Do we really understand and know and understand those outside the Kingdom?
I know for myself, for many years I choose to follow man and religion and not the teachings of Jesus. I realize that really was because I loved my life more than I loved Jesus. I was getting my identity from attending Church and calling myself a Christian but I was not trusting and obeying God with my life and most of all I was not manifesting the Holy Spirit in my life. Some of this was pure ignorance and a lack of teaching but also it was my desire to keep self-alive.
Jesus said He who loves me will obey my teaching. When He prayed to God on behalf of all believers in John 17 he said in verse 23 "I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me."
For me this has been a gradual process and still is-- daily surrender of my life and will, not for my own glory but because I truly love Jesus and not myself.
This is what it means to trust in the Lord and lean not on my own understanding. It's picking up my cross and carrying it's daily. It's laughing at the devil when he attacks knowing he's already defeated and that his attacks make me stronger and help me realize that its God who fights my battles not me. It's loving someone whose lifestyle and beliefs are different than mine. It's seeing God in every corner of creation. It's valuing humanity as much as God does and loving because He first loved me.
God is love...
I understand now why Jesus asked Peter (John 21) so many times if he loved Him. Jesus knew Peter wasn't fully surrendered at this point. He may have had the faith to believe that Jesus was the Messiah they had hoped for, but Peter still had not fully surrendered His life to follow Jesus no matter what. Of course, we know the rest of that story and how it ended. If you don't know it or haven't read it for awhile, read it over today and let it speak to you, are you like Peter? Do you love this life more than Jesus?
I'm just like Peter, perhaps we all are at some point along the narrow gate. Perhaps you like me have had to face the consequences of loving your life and this world more than God. Take heart dear traveller for God knows and understands us more than we will ever know.
Today just humbly lay your broken heart at His feet, let go of your pride and self-reliance. Seek His face because your heavenly Father knows what you need before you even ask.
May you know His love fully and allow yourself to trust and obey our Saviour and King today!
Many blessings along the narrow gate! ~Laura Sterling - www. narrowgatetraveller.com
“But blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, whose confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream.
It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green.
It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”
The heart is deceitful above all things and beyond cure. Who can understand it?
“I the Lord search the heart and examine the mind, to reward each person according to their conduct, according to what their deeds deserve.”
Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.
A glorious throne, exalted from the beginning, is the place of our sanctuary.
Lord, you are the hope of Israel; all who forsake you will be put to shame. Those who turn away from you will be written in the dust
because they have forsaken the Lord, the spring of living water.
Heal me, Lord, and I will be healed; save me and I will be saved, for you are the one I praise.
They keep saying to me “Where is the word of the Lord? Let it now be fulfilled!”
I have not run away from being your shepherd; you know I have not desired the day of despair. What passes my lips is open before you.
Prayer: Help us, Lord, to surrender all to you, to obey and trust you today not with just our emotions but with all our hearts. Amen!